‘Cult’ children placed in care

2013-03-19 09:35

The 67 underage children rescued from an illegal “cult-like” boarding house in uMzimkhulu, which is about two hours away from Durban, are receiving counselling.

The children, who are between 1 and 17 years-old, are currently under the care of the KwaZulu-Natal social development department.

They have been placed in places of safety after being snatched out of what appears to be a religious cult-like environment.

On Friday, police, social workers, as well as social development officials, raided the rural homestead which has been termed a “bizarre religious den”.

Found on the property, were makeshift prayer altars, red paint markings, doomsday scripture versus and strange symbols plastered on walls.

The KZN department of social development spokesperson, Vukani Mbhele, said the department was working to reunite these children with their families.

However, he said they might need to stay as long as two years under the care of the department in order to “re-socialize” them.

“You must understand that these children were not allowed to play with other children. They have never been to school in their lives and there has been a lot of brainwashing. That tells you that there is a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Mbhele said most of the children are from Eastern Cape. However, it is not clear at this stage how they ended up in uMzimkhulu or why they were kept.

Two men, 59 and 67, believed to have been running the illegal boarding house appeared at the uMzimkhulu Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The men have been charged with child abuse and child neglect.

Besides the 67 minors, there were other youth over 18, bringing the total of those rescued to more than 100.

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