Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

The four children whose mother allegedly abandoned them for weeks to live with her boyfriend have been removed from her care.

Department of Social Development officials said the children, including the 11-year-old who allegedly prostituted herself to older men for money to support her siblings, have been taken to a place of safety.

Officials yesterday also revealed that the children's mother had committed herself to rehabilitation.

"She has agreed to be counselled and we will be making arrangements for her to enter rehab," spokesman for the North West department of social development Mpumelelo Nhlapo said.

The children were removed from their home at Kgomola village near Lichtenburg on Monday.

This comes after Sowetan reported on the plight of the children living in abject poverty while their mother was enjoying herself with her boyfriend in another village 10km away.

It was also found that the mother was receiving child grants for three of them and squandered the money on liquor and gambling. The woman, 42, was arrested following the story and has been charged with child neglect. She was released on warning and will appear in court on September 16.

Nhlapo said: "The children have been taken to the Boikagong Children and Youth Centre. This is only temporary. They will be at the centre until January. During that period we will be monitoring their mother's progress .

"If she backs down, the children's stay at the centre will be extended. They will also be enrolled at school."

Nhlapo said none of the relatives could help take care for the children. "None of them have a source of income."

The woman's seven-year-old son is epileptic and receives R940 a month and now receives medical attention at the centre. The two other children receive R210 each.

The grants have been suspended pending an investigation into allegations of negligence against the mother.

"All we want is for the children to live in a homely environment and receive nurturing," Nhlapo said. He said they had been flooded with calls from people and government departments wanting to help.