Seven Eastern Cape children were taken to a place of safety after neighbours reported that they were being kept out of school because of their father's religious beliefs, the province's Department of Social Development said.
Department spokesperson Gcobani Maswana said their father did not allow his children to go to school or have birth certificates.
"He believed they could not get an education from worldly society," said Maswana.
The department thinks he may have been a part of the Seven Angels Ministry cult which was discovered after five police officers were shot dead in a robbery at Ngcobo police station in February.
While following the trail of the killers police came upon a collection of filthy rooms where women and children were kept in dire conditions and were not allowed to leave the property. Some members of the cult were arrested, and others were killed in a shootout with police.
Maswana said it is thought that the father of children moved from there to a village near Idutywa with his family.
However, neighbours became upset that none of he and his wife's nine children between the ages of 7 to 14 were going to school.
They raised their concerns with authorities and it was established that not only were the children not going to school, but they did not even have birth certificates.
In a lengthy process a court order was obtained to remove seven of the nine children to places of safety.
"They deserve to have an identity. They deserve to have an education," said Maswana.
Maswana said that in addition to the incredible inter-agency corperation that led to the children being taken into care, the department was bowled over by how the residents were so worried about the children and let the authorities know.
And, after the children were removed, residents rallied around to collect blankets, clothes and any other items that they could donate to contribute to the department's and NGOs' efforts to make the childrens' experience less traumatic.
The children are also receiving health checks and counselling.
In the meantime, processes are underway to investigate the circumstances of the remaining two children, and to establish more details regarding the parents' actions.
On February 21, attackers entered Ngcobo police station, between Mthatha and Queenstown, and shot and killed five policemen and a soldier.
A subsequent raid at the Seven Angels Ministry left seven people, suspected to be involved in the murders, dead.
Three Mancoba brothers, who were church leaders, were among those killed.
At least six people were arrested.
- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter