Toddler locked in at day care

2012-03-01 10:31
Potchefstroom - A 20-month-old toddler was locked in at an after care centre late on Monday afternoon after staff left for the day thinking the place was empty.

Little HJ Mostert’s father, Herman Mostert, told on Wednesday how his son became "hysterical" in the dark day care centre where curtains had been drawn.

"I tried to comfort him from outside the day care centre while the alarm was sounding."

Mostert said he was at the Pro Care day centre at 17:15 to pick up HJ but it had already been locked up. He called his wife, Rentia, to hear if she had picked up HJ.

"She said no, he has to be at the school."

Mostert meanwhile heard crying from inside and realised it was HJ.

After the centre owner was called, a staff member only arrived at 17:50 to unlock the doors, said Mostert. "HJ was drenched in sweat".

Care centre owner Trudie Klynveld said on Wednesday Mostert had called her at 17:26. "I immediately called a staff member to open up. Our alarm was deactivated at 17:34.

"It was a big mistake about which we feel terrible. We have already apologised to the parents. I've run the centre for seven years and this has never happened before, but we will implement (additional) measures to prevent it from happening again."

Klynveld was on maternity leave but from conversations with staff members learnt that HJ, carrying his bag, had on Monday afternoon slipped into the baby room with another mother and one of the staff members without being seen. All the other babies had already left for the day.

The two women did not see HJ and then pulled the door shut behind them as they left.

The day care centre usually closed at 17:00, said Klynveld.

Usually each class teacher monitored their children's comings and goings, but one staff member was responsible for children who were picked up late.

"HJ's bag was no longer there and she thought he'd already left. She locked up and activated the alarm."

Klynveld said the staff member had been given a warning.

Mostert had already put HJ into another day care centre. "They can't simply assume a child's parents came to fetch him. What if he had been walking in the street?"

Read more on:    johannesburg

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