150 Children carted away from Ladysmith home - Alf Lees

DA MP says children taken have reportedly been dumped in inadequate accommodation across the province

150 Children carted away from Ladysmith home and dumped all over KZN

17 February 2019

The Democratic Alliance has asked the KZN MEC for Social Development to urgently intervene to prevent a KZN Esidimeni catastrophe in Northern KZN.

[See the dept's response, as reported on SowetanLive, here  - PW]

On Friday the 15th of February 2019 officials from KZN Social Development accompanied by armed policemen arrived unannounced at three children’s homes in northern KZN:

MoreSter Children’s Home Ladysmith

MoreSter Children’s Home Newcastle

Home Meah Newcastle.

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. The following are unsubstantiated reports received from reliable sources about the events that unfolded at MoreSter Ladysmith and Newcastle homes yesterday:

The raid was apparently authorised by the KZN Premier Willies Mchunu,

Officials arrived in a variety of motor vehicles, none equipped with baby seats for the babies,

The police were armed with automatic weapons,

No warrants or other documentation was produced by the officials that authorised their action.

The children have been transported to towns all over KZN including Richards Bay, Margate, Port Shepstone, Newcastle and Victory Haven in Ladysmith,

Parents were not informed of the decision to move the children.

Parents have not been informed where their children have been moved to,

The officials had no food for the children not even milk formula for the babies,

Children were removed without establishing what their individual medication or personal care requirements are,

Fifteen children from new born to the age of two years were kept in a kombi for three hours without any food or drink or milk formula.

The children were traumatised and many were crying and screaming in fear,

Some children barricaded themselves in a room in order to prevent the police from removing them. They were later forcibly removed.

Reports received indicate that:

Some parents arrived at the Ladysmith home this afternoon, Saturday the 16th of February 2019, to find out where their children had been moved to and why they were moved. The management and staff at the home were apparently not able to assist the parents.

Some children with cell phones have contacted their parents with horrific stories:

Nine children are on the streets in Durban as the home at which they were dumped had no room for them.

A group of ten children have been locked in a room with one small window somewhere where:

They have to sleep on concrete benches.

They are being sworn at and verbally abused.

Some have not been fed since they were dumped.

Some are disabled and unable to communicate with their parents and caregivers.

Some children have already run away from the places that they were dumped at and returned to the Ladysmith MoreSter home.

It has been alleged that there was abuse of the children taking place at one of the homes but surprisingly apparently not a single member of management or staff at the homes has been charged or arrested.

There can be no reason for the traumatic experience that these children have been put through and apparently continue to be exposed to. Willies Mchunu, the KZN premier, and Ms WG Thusi, the MEC for Social Development must immediately, today, take action to:

Ensure all the children are being properly and lovingly cared for,

Contact every single parent today to inform them where their children are and why they were moved.

Make transport available to all parents to visit their children by latest tomorrow Sunday the 17th of February 2019.

Publicly account:

For the reasons for removing the children from the homes,

For the legality of the action taken to remove the children,

For the manner in which the children were removed,

For where each child has been placed, WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN,

For the medication and special needs that each child may require,

For not taking any action against home management and staff,

For reasons why the children could not be left in the homes under the emergency care of departmental staff or other qualified staff,

I have written to the KZN Premier, Willies Mchunu, to request that he take urgent action to save the children.

Once again it seems that an ANC MEC has failed the most vulnerable people in our society. We hope and pray that this is not a repeat of the Esidimeni catastrophe.

Statement issued by Alf Lees MP, Constituency Head: Uthukela, 17 February 2019