Kids’ home: new scandal

2010-07-27 00:00

AS the KwaZulu-Natal Social Development department is battling to sort out the affairs of the Natal Children’s Home, more damning allegations against a senior official at the home surfaced recently.

The department has not yet revealed its progress in resolving issues of alleged mismanagement and abuse of children housed at the home by the officials in charge.

Recent revelations are that a senior official has been “draining” the home of the best quality donated food and other items for personal use.

A source, who asked not to be named, alleged that the official, whose name is also withheld, also took a lounge suite and freezer from the home to his beach cottage.

“The best quality food donations were not always prepared for the children, but would instead be taken away to certain officials’ own children.

“Sometimes the children would eat bread with peanut butter and coffee for breakfast, while a healthy breakfast was prepared for people renting out rooms for Comrades and any other ‘tenants’,” the source said, adding that the children had only one blanket each.

“No one among the employees was able to come to their rescue because questioning how the children are treated would be putting one’s job on the line,” said the source.

The source claimed that around 2007 or 2008, the national lottery donated two minibuses to the home, but these are not used to take the children to school as the official in question says there is no petrol for the cars.

Attempts to get comment from the official in question were fruitless.

Last Monday a woman at the home insisted that The Witness speak to the chairperson of the board, Gert van Vuuren, who also refused to listen to the reason for the call.

“I’ve got nothing to say to you people because of the bad publicity you have been giving us in your paper. We are even considering court action against you,” was all Van Vuuren would say.

The Witness has reported recently that the future of the facility hangs in the balance following allegations of abuse and the mismanagement of donations .

Donors and Social Development have withdrawn their support.

After the revelations that the children at the home were allegedly neglected, the department moved them to a place of safety.

A member of the KZN’s Legislature’s oversight committee, who declined to be named, expressed disappointment that the department has failed to normalise the situation at the home.

Department spokesperson Mandla Ngema said last week that the department has investigated, but the board refuses to co-operate, and is now alleging that the house belongs to them. “We are awaiting response from the deeds office to ascertain whether they [the board] own the property,” said Ngema.

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