Pietermaritzburg - Two children have been removed from a local crèche by their parents following allegations that the toddlers were assaulted by a teacher.A third parent, who alleged that her nephew came home from the same crèche with an unexplained “rash” which she alleged was caused by unhygienic conditions there, said she too was considering removing the child from the Imbali facility. She has not done so, however, because the family had already paid their fees for the entire year.The owner of the Rise and Shine crèche, Pam Ndima, denied that conditions at the crèche are not hygienic, and also said the teacher accused of “slapping” the two children denies the allegations. “The poor teacher who was accused of hitting the child is now stressing and considering leaving the school,” she said.The parents or relatives of the three children who spoke to The Witness, cannot be named to protect the identity of the children.One of the parents said she had no choice but to take her two-year-old daughter out of the crèche after three days because she came home with a mark on her cheek.“I went to fetch her from school and she showed me her cheek, which had a slap mark, and said that her teacher had slapped her because she wouldn’t sleep.“I took a picture of her and sent it to her father who immediately drove to the school,” she said.The mother said the principal was not there at the time but they met up later.She said the teacher had said the child was probably hit by another child while they were playing.“The teacher denied that she had hit my child, but apologised nonetheless,” said the mother.The parents said they were advised against opening a case by police because they only went to report to the incident two weeks later. Police said there was no evidence of the alleged assault and the child was very young.The aunt of another child who was allegedly assaulted at the school, suggested the child speak to The Witness. The little girl said on the phone that she was scared to go back to school. “The teacher hit me on my bum and told me to sleep. I don’t want to go back to crèche anymore,” said the toddler, speaking in Zulu.Her aunt said they did not report the matter to the crèche but opted to simply take the child out of school. Another woman said her three-year-old nephew was having health problems because of the allegedly “unhygienic crèche premises”.“My nephew has developed a rash because of the blankets they sleep on. They are smelly and dirty,” she said. A young man who fetches the boy from school said he once saw the teachers smoking in close proximity to the children, she added. Responding to the allegations, Ndima said she told the parents of the child who had alleged she had been slapped that it was a “sleep mark and not a slap mark”.She said she tried to apologise and reassure the parents it would never happen again, but it was all in vain as they ended up wanting their money back. She had refunded them immediately. “I think the child just did not want to come to school because this was a new environment. “When we asked the child to point out the teacher, the child pointed to the wrong teacher who didn’t teach her,” said Ndima.She said she could not say if teachers smoked in the vicinity of any children at the crèche, but she had not seen them do so.“If parents are not happy with this school they must go and find a better school,” said a distressed Ndima.Not on databaseThe Witness was told that Rise and Shine crèche does not appear on the database of the Department of Social Development’s Child Act, which is a requirement for looking after children.However, when asked about this Ndima was adamant that her crèche is registered with the department as an NPO. She added that she has a certificate from the department recognising the crèche as a “place of care” for children. A spokesperson for the department, Ncumisa Fandesi, urged parents to open a case with the police if they believe their children are being abused at any school.“If children are being hit at school that is against the law and as a parent you have every right to open a case with the police,” said Fandesi.She said parents should always check the registration of the crèche before enrolling their children there. “If parents are not satisfied with a crèche they have every right to take their child to a more decent and satisfactory crèche,” said Fandesi.