Foster moms cry foul

2012-04-06 00:00

WHITE foster parents of black children in the Midlands fear that social workers are on a campaign to remove them from their care,

Three parents and an independent source have told The Witness that social workers’ superiors say black children should no longer be raised by white parents.

Social development spokesperson Ncumisa Fandesi dismissed claims that the department was against inter-racial foster care.

However, she confirmed the issue had become a crisis for the foster mothers and that the department would meet them.

In December last year, the social workers were accused by foster mothers of using illegal methods to remove children from foster care and place them with the families that had either abused or could not care for them. “The social workers told me directly that they had been ordered to remove children from us because they would no longer allow for the black children to be raised by white parents,” a foster mother whose child was taken last month told The Witness.

Another said: “Although conditions such as the child’s cultural background are taken into consideration when placing a child, the social workers are picking on that condition to use it to take our children.”

An independent source aware of the matter said the interest and the wellbeing of children were being trampled on by racism.

“This is now turning into a racial thing; the children who are being looked after are being removed because of racism.

“The social workers say they have been given instructions by their superiors to remove black children from white parents,” said the source.

“Since last year, social workers have visited several mothers to remove children from their care,” the source added.

Last year, social workers tried to remove a six-year-old child who had been living with a Howick woman since she was an infant.

The woman said after years without communication with social workers, they called to tell her they were coming to take the child in 30 minutes. She went to court and successfully stopped her child’s removal.

Another mother fled to a nearby town with her children in December after she was informed the social workers were coming to take the children. They could not trace her and she has since returned home with her children.

Another foster mother claimed that last month social workers removed a paraplegic child from her, in violation of the law as they had been ordered to apply for court orders when removing children.

Fandesi said they were investigating the removal of the child without a court order.

Sources said Magistrate Balraj Dehalool had been dispatched to the area to deal with the problem. They say even he was growing increasingly frustrated with the alleged disregard for the law by social workers.

Dehalool declined to comment.

“On February 15 this year, he held a meeting with the managers in the department of social development and told them that they must not remove children without court orders, and last month the social workers removed another child without a court order,” said the source.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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