Children’s home in decline

2010-10-13 00:00

THE Ekujabuleni Children’s Home in Edendale is on the verge of collapse and Deputy Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini yesterday criticised the director and staff for their neglect and lack of concern for the children in their care.

About 63 children have been removed from the home since last year, after Dlamini paid a surprise visit in December and found it in what she called an “appalling” state.

According to department officials, the children were removed in phases, the first group in December and the last group two months ago.

No children remain at the home and the staff members have been retrenched.

Ekujabuleni is the second home in Pietermaritzburg from which the department has removed children.

Earlier this year, children at the Natal Children’s Home were removed after it emerged that they were allegedly mistreated and were made to sleep in tents during the Comrades Marathon so that the management could rent out their rooms to runners.

Addressing community members and volunteers during her visit to Ekujabuleni yesterday, Dlamini berated the director, the management and the workers at the home for their lack of concern and passion for the children entrusted to them.

She said during her visit last Christmas to donate toys to the children, she found the home in an appalling condition.

“My first struggle was at the gate; they took more than 15 minutes just to open the gate,” she said.

Dlamini said that once inside, she witnessed the poor conditions under which the children were living.

She found that the director of the home was not there, there was poor staff attendance and that people who were not supposed to be at the home were roaming around the place.

Dlamini said that although there is a clear demarcation between the boys’ and girls’ quarters, she found that the boys were roaming freely in the girls’ quarters and that was a matter of grave concern.

She said hygiene at the home was poor. “In one incident, I witnessed a dog drinking water out of a basin containing children’s food. I have a dog and I would never let it drink where my children eat.”

The deputy minister said she was also offended by being interrogated by the daughter of the home director who pretended to work there.

“She pretended to be one of the employees. The people who do not belong to the home should not be there.”

Dlamini said it was not their intention to close down the home.

“After witnessing the condition, I contacted the social development cluster in Pietermaritzburg to investigate the situation.”

She said the home has to be restored to a suitable condition for the children to live in.

“Putting children under these conditions is equivalent to secondary abuse; we remove children from abusive situation to rejuvenate them, not to subject them to more abuse.”

Nokuthula Khanyile-Gumede, a general manager at the Pietermaritzburg social development offices, said it will take time before the children are placed back.

“The home is still not ready. We are working with the staff on a programme to make it more suitable for the children,” she said.

Sbongile Ngcobo, the director of Ekujabuleni, said in her defence: “Everybody has their view of the situation and I am not going to say much because I am not a deputy minister.

“The conditions under which the children were taken are still of concern to me because we are supposed to work in partnership with the government, but in this case that is not what happened,” said Ngcobo.

Bathabile Dlamini, Deputy Social Development Minister

In one incident, I witnessed a dog drinking water out of a basin containing children’s food. I have a dog and I would never let it drink where my children eat.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.