Why is KZN’s Social Development Department so Keen to Shut Down Children’s Homes?

Makhosazana Mdlalose, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Social Development

RATHER than assisting KwaZulu-Natal children’s homes to register, the province’s Social Development department appears intent on placing as many obstacles as possible in their path.

Despite the growing number of orphans in the province, functioning children’s homes are being threatened with closure over the fact that they are not registered. Yet, they claim that their attempts to do so have been met with nothing but resistance by department officials.

Ubombo Children’s Care Centre, Clouds of Hope in Underberg, Uvongo on the South Coast and the White Cross Disabled Hope Centre in Ashburton are four homes that the DA has visited which are struggling to be registered. The latter was registered incorrectly and has had to reapply for registration. A visit to Clouds of Hope earlier this year revealed that, despite the valiant efforts of board members to have the facility operate under the umbrella of the department, attempts to register have been largely ignored. And there are many more such homes scattered across the province – places where children are being offered a decent home for the first time in their young lives.

The need for strict controls around the registration of children’s homes is not up for debate. It is the department’s arrogant, high-handed attitude towards applicants that requires investigation. The question is – why is the department so keen to see these homes fail? Why isn’t it going out of its way to assist these entities to be registered? Most homes claim they have tried repeatedly to register while department officials say they have no record of the applications. Clearly somebody in the department is not doing their job.

The department has also embarked on a programme to build new children’s homes – at considerable cost. It appears that officials are keen to cover themselves in glory. This also raises questions around whether the department has its own hidden agenda.

The DA will submit the following parliamentary question to KZN MEC, Weziwe Thusi;

– How many Children’s Care Centres have been registered by the KZN Department of Social Welfare during the last year?

– How many applications for registration have been refused during this same period? Please list the names of those centres that have been denied registration.

– What are the reasons given for the applications being turned down?

The fact that children are being forcibly removed from homes and returned to biological parents, often under appalling circumstances, is an indictment against the department. Several of these children have had to be relocated again to extended family. It would appear that the welfare of the children is the department’s last priority.

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