Hero promised help

Ntwaagae Seleka

Ntwaagae Seleka

After much haggling there is hope that Eunice Mabaso's Siyakhula Orphanage in Orange Farm in the Vaal will be a recognised home for destitute children again.

Two weeks ago, the Gauteng social development department twice raided the orphanage, which she runs from her house.

Social workers accompanied by police removed the 30 children in her care and shut her orphanage because it was not registered.

A relieved Mabaso yesterday said she had now registered the orphanage and was waiting for a certificate from the department.

"I am happy because I will see my children again soon," she said.

The 54-year-old Mabaso turned her house into a shelter for children in 1999.

She said some of the children were abandoned at her gate and some were brought to her by their families.

Others were victims of various forms of abuse.

The youngest child that was under her care is three months old and the eldest 21 years old.

She said she registered her orphanage in Pretoria on Wednesday, where she was told to renovate her home in compliance with regulations as a prerequisite to qualifying for legal registration.

"I was asked to produce a health permit and a recommendation letter from the municipality, fix the electricity inside the house and water pipes in the yard," she said.

She said the department assured her that once she was issued with a certificate the children would be returned to her care.

She thanked Sowetan for publicising her plight.

"I also thank the readers who gave me support when I was in pain," Mabaso said.

She said a pressing problem was that she was running out of food to feed the remaining 15 children who had resisted the forced removal.

Gauteng social development spokesman Fred Mokoko said the department was helping Mabaso to acquire her certificate and investigating how many children could be accommodated and safety measures at the orphanage.

Mokoko said: "After obtaining a certificate the children will acquire relief from the government. They will obtain grants, free medication and qualify to be on feeding scheme programmes at schools."

The department also promised to give relevant training and development to Mabaso and her caregivers.