Children return to institution

2010-07-13 00:00

THE Social Development Department is angered by the return of 19 children to the Natal Children’s Home after reports that the institution was closing down at the end of this month.

The Witness was informed yesterday about the return of the children to the home and when the department was contacted, they said they had no knowledge of this.

The department then made its own enquiry and contacted The Witness to confirm that the children have returned.

“This was done without consultation with the department, but we will handle the situation. We only knew about the return after we were contacted by you [The Witness].

Obviously these people disregarded the fact that they should liaise with us and communicate their intentions,” department spokesperson Mandla Ngema said.

Late last month an urgent meeting was held by the board and general employees of the home where the board told workers about the home’s closure at the end of this month, if there no funding or donations were received.

The home’s general secretary, Paul van Rensburg, confirmed then that, during the meeting, the staff were given retrenchment letters.

“There’s no way that we can continue operating without Social Development funding, and if we hear nothing from them by the end of July, then we are closing the doors.

“The negative publicity we have been receiving has also done no good as donors have decided to withhold their support,” said Van Rensburg at the time.

A source close to the research team from the KZN Legislature said the team had gone back to the home after hearing about the children’s return yesterday.

“What we don’t understand here is why, after discovering that the children were ill-treated and removing them to a place of safety, would the department do nothing to prevent them from going back.

“When the child is taken into a home which is fun­ded by the state, then the state becomes responsible for the wellbeing of that child.

“Why allow this to happen without rectifying whatever problems existed at the home? Something needs to be done about the situation before it gets out of hand,” said the source.

Chief director of Social Development Nokuthula Gumede said the department will brief the public through the media about developments regarding the handling of the matter.

The Witness has learnt that the children were taken back to the home as they are going back to school today.

A department official who asked not to be named said the matter of the home is complex, and needs to be dealt with bearing in mind the welfare of the children. “The department has made it clear that the home belongs to the community and that it is not closing down.

“We also need to understand that there are legalities in dealing with matters like this, but we are dealing surely with the people who run the home,” said the official.

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