Hendrika Kruger MPL
Spokesperson on Social Development
While investigations continue into the poisoning of eighteen children at the Malerato Centre for Hope in Mamelodi, the child-minder suspected of doing so, remains free. On Monday, I visited this orphanage, started in 1990, to assess the situation. Most of the children were placed there by the Cullinan Court and by social workers from Cullinan. Children are taken to the orphanage by police at all hours of the day and night.
In 2005 the centre received an NGO number and although the orphanage is on the same street as one of the offices of the Department of Social Development and despite countless visits to the Department requesting help to register the centre, the social worker has never assisted the centre. According to the owner of the orphanage, Dikeledi Jacobs, a case was even brought against the social worker as she was abusive to the children – she would slap the children and sometimes simply remove children and place them in foster care with no notification. The Department did hold a hearing on the matter but has yet to declare an outcome.
The home which mostly looks after HIV / AIDS children is too small to accommodate the current numbers of children there but the church ground and buildings are utilised during the week for them to play and do homework. During my visit I did note that while the children were clean, their rooms were tidy and they were fed adequately, the police and Department of Social Development arrived at 21:00 to place all the children elsewhere.
Such treatment adds insult to injury – first these children were poisoned and then they were removed from their place of comfort late at night.
The DA demands that the Gauteng Department of Social Development take urgent action to remedy this situation.