Social Development Department must be held accountable for goings on at NCCC

Dr. Isak Fritz, MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson of Social Development

The DA is not surprised by a recent report detailing apparent incidents of abuse at the Noupoort Christian Care Centre (NCCC). In fact, we are of the opinion that government has been turning a blind eye to what has been going on at the centre for years already, and we strongly feel that the Department of Social Development now has to share in the responsibility of owning up to the troubles experienced at this centre for the past decade.

In 2009, the DA asked the Social Development Department to investigate and increase monitoring of the centre. However, despite concerns regarding the centre, no concrete decision to determine the future of this facility was ever taken by government. Instead, it has now taken an order by the Northern Cape High Court to expose the reality of this centre.  This comes after the Department of Social Development was ordered to compile a report on the facility, due to Transnet having applied for an eviction order against the NCCC due to non-payment of rent.

What the Social Development department’s report highlights appears to concur with many of the DA’s findings during an oversight visit of the facility in 2009. Amongst other things, the DA had concerns regarding the kitchen appearing not to comply with health and safety standards, the treatment programme not being in line with generally more scientifically substantiated treatment programmes provided across the rest of the country, an unreliable and unsubstantiated success rate marketed by the facility, excessive modes of military style disciplining of clients, the use of the solitary confinement, proper management of the fees which at the time ranged from between R35 000 and R40 000 per client, as well as the breeding of about 80 Pitt Bull terriers for so-called “dog therapy”.

After the visit, the DA felt that the NCCC should be closed, as repeated recommendations to improve the programme had not been comprehensively implemented over a period of approximately 9 years. We also deemed it necessary that an investigation into the finances of the Director of the facility was necessary and that the Departments of Social Services and Health should be held accountable for not taking appropriate action to close and/or enforce speedy improvements of the NCCC programme.

It is clear that a lack of monitoring of the functioning of the NCCC on an ongoing basis has resulted in substandard care and treatment being given to patients at the facility for a very long time.

The DA is of the view that this facility should conform to national standards for institutions of a similar nature. The DA only hopes that now, the relative authorities will finally sit up and take notice.