'save me from this monster'

Alfred Moselakgomo

A foster mother could be in hot water after she allegedly forced an orphan under her care to wash the soiled panties of 22 children every day before going to school.

The Mpumalanga department of social development placed the 14-year-old orphan in the woman's care last year, after discovering that her uncle and his wife at Lefiso village were abusing her.

Now it has been discovered that her new foster mother, whose name is known to Sowetan, wakes her up at 4am every day and forces her to wash the soiled panties of children who go to the crèche.

The woman owns a daycare centre in Marapyane, and the girl is a Grade 8 pupil at Mmasekaseka Middle School. She told her teachers about the abuse when they noticed that she always looked troubled.

Her teacher told Sowetan yesterday: "She did not look happy, and we could tell that something wrong was going on."

The girl said: "I am woken up at 4am to wash children's panties, collect water from a communal tap about 3km from home, before I can prepare to go to school.

"I have been through a lot in my short life, and had thought by coming here it would change my life, but I was wrong.

"In fact, I am far better off with my abusive uncle and his wife; please save me from this monster," the girl pleaded.

Her parents died in 2007 and she moved in with her uncle and his wife but was removed from their care after they were found to be abusing her.

The foster care mother refused to speak to Sowetan yesterday, demanding to be left alone.

Dumisane Mlangeni, the spokesman for the provincial social development department, said: "Harsh action will be taken against the foster mother if our investigation finds that the child was indeed being abused."