Dept to step in at Children’s Home

2010-06-01 00:00

KWAZULU Natal’s Department of Social Development is to intervene further to rectify the problems at the Natal Children’s Home.

The Witness reported yesterday that children at the home were made to sleep in tents and a garage while their rooms were rented out to Comrades Marathon runners for R150 per night per person.

The department moved the children to a place of safety on Friday after an inspection by a research team from the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.

A meeting was held yesterday between the department and the management of the home.

A department spokesperson, Mandla Ngema, said it was found that the people in charge of the home are not well informed about some of the provisions of the Children’s Act.

“The management agreed that they were in the wrong and the department had noticed that they committed these offences unaware of the repercussions.

“The department will therefore work towards [training] them for the benefit of the children and to rectify the mistakes,” said Ngema.

Ngema said no drastic action will be taken against them as the offences were not committed knowingly.

He said NGOs have to register and undergo screening to be certain they understand the laws that guide the running of children’s homes.

“Be that as it may, we cannot close this NGO down because, at the end of the day, they are taking care of these children.

“What the department will do is to issue a warning for this kind of treatment not to happen again,” he said.

The home’s manager, Wessel Roets, told The Witness on Sunday that the home has let its beds to Comrades runners for the past seven years to raise funds.

Ngema said the children may be taken back to the home tomorrow.

He added that the department is investigating allegations of financial mismanagement.

“All NGOs funded by the department submit periodical reports on how they use funds allocated to them by the department,” he said.

The chairperson of the home, Gert van Vuuren, said the problems were resolved between the parties.

“At this stage we have sought legal opinion as the whole thing has led to people talking.”

A research team from the provincial legislature said it has damning information about the home.

A member of the team who wants to remain anonymous said, “Since Friday, a number of witnesses, including parents and employees at the home, have volunteered some information relating to the abuse of children, and we have drafted a report which will be tabled in the office of the speaker for this matter to be discussed in [the legislature].”

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