Outcry after children removed from places of safety

Department of social welfare officials and police removed 197 children from three children’s homes in KwaZulu-Natal.
Image: Morester

The Democratic Alliance has asked KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu to intervene urgently to prevent a repeat of the Life Esidimeni tragedy after 197 children were removed from three children’s homes in Ladysmith and Newcastle and taken to various places in the province.

According to a statement issued by DA MP Alf Lees, officials from the KZN social development department, who were accompanied by armed policemen, arrived unannounced at Morester Children’s Home in Ladysmith, Morester Children’s Home in Newcastle and Home Meah Newcastle on Friday.

“According to reliable sources about the raid on Morester Ladysmith, the officials traumatised children from a one-month-old baby to a 20-year-old by storming in and removing the children, some forcibly, as they tried to barricade themselves in,” said Lees.

He said according to initial information, the officials – some of whom were armed – weren’t equipped with baby seats for the babies and didn’t provide documentation as to where the children were being taken.

Lees said in addition, parents were not informed of the removal of the children and that they were removed without establishing what their individual medication or personal care requirements were.

“There can be no reason for the traumatic experience that these children have been put through and apparently continue to be exposed to,” said Lees.

The DA has asked Mchunu and provincial social development MEC Weziwe Thusi to provide reasons why the children were removed and whether it was legal to do so. “We hope that this is not a repeat of the Esidimeni catastrophe,” said Lees.

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