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Orphanage owner's grief as children are removed by social workers

By unknown | Jul 04, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Ntwaagae Seleka

Ntwaagae Seleka

A Good Samaritan caring for 30 children was left in tears yesterday when she was ordered to surrender the children.

Social workers from the Gauteng Department of Social Development told Eunice Mabaso, 54, that her "place of safety" - her house - was not legally registered with the department.

The social workers removed two children yesterday, saying they would return to remove the rest today. One child fled into hiding and the others refused to leave.

Mabaso, who takes care of 30 orphans from Orange Farm and elsewhere, said she established Siyakhula Orphanage in 1995 at her house in Orange Farm, Vaal, when she moved into the area.

The youngest infant in her care was 3 months old and the oldest was 21 years old.

Mabaso said: "It is very painful for me when I think that I will never see my children again. It really kills my soul."

She said some of the children were abandoned at her gate and others were brought by their families. Some of the children had been victims of sexual abuse.

Mabaso said she was proud that some of the children she had taken care of were now responsible adults and married.

Mabaso said 10 women volunteers from Orange Farm helped her with her work.

She said the project survived on donations and sponsorships.

"The Social Development Department has never consulted me about registering my organisation," Mabaso said.

She said she only knew about the centre's closure on Friday when social workers told her that her centre was not registered.

Yesterday social workers told Mabaso at a meeting with her board members that her house was unfit to cater for the children. They said the children would be placed in alternative orphanages.

Mabaso said that in 2003 the Gauteng Department of Housing promised to build her a R3,9million centre at Lakeside township near Orange Farm. But the building is still under construction.

Gauteng housing spokesman Victor Moreriane said he would respond to Sowetan's query on the building of the centre today.

Mabaso said: "My children are used to me and the people who help me. It is going to be difficult for them to adapt."

Gauteng social development spokesman Fred Mokoko said they would investigate the circumstances that led to the closure of Siyakhula orphanage after receiving reports from the social workers.

He said it was illegal for Mabaso to take care of more than six children in her house without registering with the department.


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