Nuns ‘beat’ children in care

2011-11-10 00:00

THREE nuns made a brief appearance in the New Hanover Magistrate’s Court yesterday accused of assaulting children in their care.

This follows the closing down of the children’s home they were operating at the convent in the town.

They were charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

The nuns are with the Community of Jesus Compassion in the Diocese of Natal. They are Dumazile Elsie Manqele (64), Thokozile Zondo (38) and Thelma Ngobese (50).

The Social Development office New Hanover removed the 20 children after being told by the principal at the children’s school, New Hanover Pre-paratory, of the allegations of assault.

The MEC for Social Development, Dr Meshack Radebe, made an unannounced visit to the convent yesterday following the allegations of physical abuse.

He went looking for the children and was told that they have been removed to Ekujabuleni Childrens Home’in Edendale and Green Fields Home.

Said an angry Gumede, “This is not acceptable in our society.

“We are closing down this centre because there is no way that children can stay in the house and share bedrooms like this.”

The head sister, Thandi Ntuli, told The Witness that the nuns share bedrooms with the children while giving them parental care and love.

The children come to the centre at different ages, she said.

“Some were two weeks old when they were dumped here and now they are nine years old and even older,” said Ntuli.

“We are not monsters … they just painted us as such.

“We were trying to help the community we live in by providing shelter and food and training them to be better people out of our own pockets.

“We were not receiving grants from the government. In the toughest times, God is still in control.”

Ntuli said that if they nuns are as bad as they have been portrayed, none of the children would have stayed there. Nor would some who are now at university come back to visit the convent, as they do.

She said the convent’s nuns pay from their own pockets to ensure that all the children they take care of get the education they deserve. The nuns are nurses and teachers and they know how to take care of children, she added.

It alleged that the principal laid charges of physical abuse against the home for the abuse of a girl and a boy from home who attend the school.

The grandmother of two children who were staying with nuns said she is shocked to hear that her grandchildren were moved.

“Why did they do this?

“I have been struggling with these children with no help from the social worker, but now when they have a home they are taken away,” said the weeping grandmother.

The nuns will be back in court on November 23 as investigation continues.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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