City to act on parents who leave kids at beach

2014-01-04 00:00

DURBAN city officials said they will take a hard line with young mothers leaving their children behind at the beach, calling it a disturbing trend.

The mothers of at least 10 children, all younger than 12 years, are still being sought after the kids were found abandoned on beaches around the city.

The children will remain at the Addington Hospital in a specially designated facility.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that police were looking for the mothers. “Once these mothers are identified they will be charged for child neglect in line with the Child Protection Act. However, if they are found to be under age then they will be handed over to the social workers.”

eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo said it was disturbing that parents “forget to look after the very children they brought along to the beaches”.

“It is an offence to leave a minor unattended in terms of the Child Protection Act. The police will take action against these parents once they are identified,” he said.

The difficulty in locating the parents is exacerbated by the fact that the children had no wrist bands with names and contact details of relatives, said Nxumalo.

He said 8 350 wrist bands were issued over the New Year period, while 351 children were accommodated at the separated children facilities on the beachfront in the same period. Of this number, 207 were taken to the overnight facility, where 197 were re-united with their parents later in the evening, while 10 remained overnight.

Linda Naidoo, an independent children’s rights specialist and former director of Childline KZN, said these children should not be just given back to their parents.

“Once identified, these parents should be investigated to ascertain if they are capable of caring for their children. Do they give them all the support required? Are they fit to be parents? What led them to leave the children at the beach? I think giving these children back to the parents without investigation could be disastrous to [the children’s] future,” said Naidoo.

She said many children only go to the beach once a year so without supervision they would not know how to function in that environment, adding that they could drown or even be abducted.

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