Autistic girl kept locked up, chained

THE KwaZulu-Natal department of social welfare said yesterday it was shocked by news that one of its officials had refused to act after being told that an autistic child was kept "chained and locked up" in a shack.

THE KwaZulu-Natal department of social welfare said yesterday it was shocked by news that one of its officials had refused to act after being told that an autistic child was kept "chained and locked up" in a shack.

Umbumbulu police also lashed out at the department for its "reluctance to remove the child", who had been "imprisoned for almost a year".

Station commissioner Colonel Francis Bantham said she had to "force" the officials to remove the child from the custody of her parents on Wednesday and take her to a place of safety.

The nine-year-old girl was found with both legs bound with rope to a pole that was used to keep the dilapidated shack upright.

"When we got there, the child had messed herself ," Bantham said.

Mandla Ngema of social development said he was shocked to hear that social workers had refused to attend to the case. He said the department would "urgently look into the matter".

Siphiwe Ngcobo, a relative of the child, said the parents had bound the child's legs about a year ago.

He said he had warned them that what they were doing was wrong, but they took no notice. The couple was arrested by the police soon after the discovery.

They will appear in the Umbumbulu magistrate's court on Monday.

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