Love overrides letter of the law

Why is the law such an ass, causing those who are meant to champion and defend its inviolability to speak with forked tongues?

This question is a consequence of a story about the benevolent Eunice Mabaso, the granny from Orange Farm, in the Vaal, who eight years ago opened her house and heart to destitute children, orphans and the homeless.

Many of the unfortunate children are babies who Mabaso says are dumped at her doorstep by desperate, probably teenage, schoolgirls or poverty-stricken young mothers.

These young people are obviously victims of a socioeconomic system that is not working for them.

In two devastating raids, the Gauteng social development department removed screaming babies, who were among 30 children, from Mabaso's Siyakhula Orphanage on Monday and on Tuesday last week.

On the second occasion the social workers were accompanied by police.

This single act traumatised both Mabaso and the children. Some of them, mostly teenagers, escaped from the official centres in Johannesburg on the first night. Others vowed to return to the streets from where Mabaso had rescued them in the first place.

It seems her sin, according to the Gauteng government, is that Mabaso is unsophisticated and therefore has to be punished for her lack of knowledge concerning legal complexities.

The government says she failed to register the orphanage and therefore it is illegal.

This Mabaso does not dispute. I also agree that in terms of the law it should have been properly accredited. But Mabaso did not know this.

In her own words she says: "Why does the government punish me by taking my children away? Is it not its job to guide me by providing me with information? Now that I know, I will register because I fear the children might be harmed."

This assertion was supported by reader Lungile Mdluli who wrote: "I cannot help but wonder who exactly is benefiting from this action. The unregistered centre was operated illegally and I agree that it warrants action, but what confuses me is the action the provincial government took.

"It is an irony that Sowetan ran the closure and another one saying that black parents must adopt on the same day. Wasn't Mabaso a good candidate?"

Mdluli argues, correctly, that it is better to have children in unregistered orphanages than on street corners sniffing glue and benzine and eventually resorting to crime to survive.

Help her . She has been doing great work since 1999.

This is positive, unlike the response from Tommy Huma, the PRO of Child Welfare South Africa, who belabours the illegality of the orphanage, saying "a four-roomed house cannot accommodate about 30 children of different ages".

Huma ignored to read parts of the article which said Mabaso has built three dormitories in her yard, with separate bathrooms and toilets for the boys and girls.

And this is why I strongly contend that it is the short-sighted bureaucrats that make the law an ass.

Lest I forget, it appears Gauteng social development is not aware that its housing counterpart is actually in the process of erecting a multimillion-rand building for Siyakhula's children, who it has now uprooted.

This is indeed a monumental shame to the supposed custodians of our social welfare.