Earlier this week, social media users were alarmed at images of alleged abuse at a local day-care centre that surfaced on various platforms. The image, posted by Chinelle van Rooyen of her one-year-old daughter, Zarrah, shows the little girl’s thigh bruised and red.
According to the 23-year-old mother, the marks surfaced following the girls second day at the Little Jewels Educare in Manenberg. After the image surfaced, the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) was alerted about the allegations and immediately ensured that social workers visit the centre. Upon arrival however, the social workers were intimidated by staff members and forced to leave without having conducted an investigation.
The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) have been proactive with the launch of an investigation, but their attempts were not very fruitful after the social workers who they assigned for the visit received a hostile welcome and threats by the principal and staff,
Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat, spokesperson for Albert Fritz, MEC for DSD, Sihle Ngobese, explained that the matter came to the attention of the department through social media, after which the department’s social workers immediately sort to address the issue.
He confirmed reports that on their visit to the day care centre on Monday, the social workers were met with hostility by staff members.
“So obviously for safety reasons, the social workers pulled back and this matter was escalated to head office where our officials from the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme have now stepped in to conduct the investigation,” he elaborated.
He further stated that it is unacceptable that social workers, who while acting in their official capacity, are threatened for conducting inspections as required by law.
“All social workers working in the ECD space are guided by the Children’s Act of 2005, this Act places the responsibility on the DSD to always act in the best interest of children.”
Ngobese affirmed that while the investigation is still at an early stage, the department will ensure that the department seek justice for situation and will work to ensure that no such incident takes place.
Meanwhile, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, City of Cape Town, Alderman, JP Smith, confirmed that following the visitation by DSD, the parents of the children were also intimidated by staff members of the day-care.
“[This] will [not] stand the crèche in good stead. But this is ultimately about the facts and DSD will determine the facts as best they can about whether there was any evidence of abuse. And if that is the case and if it needs to be, then they will formally shut the crèche,” Smith asserted.
Commenting on reports that stated that provincial government closed the centre, Smith confirmed that it has closed the centre.
He says that the City discovered after visiting the centre, that the principal of the centre had personally closed its doors.
“The principal had herself shut the facility for two days and had put up a notice to that effect; that had not been done by provincial government as has been asserted by the newspaper,” Smith continued.
He encourages all parents who suspect child abuse, to document any evidence, such as marks or bruises, as soon as possible.
In cases where sexual abuse is suspected, Smith says that parents need to seek medical assistance as soon as possible in order to ensure that the child’s physical well-being has not been compromised, but also to ensure that critical evidence is not lost.
Given the fact that the department was made aware of the allegations of abuse at the centre through social media, Ngobese urges all parents and members of the public to inform the department if they have suspicion of abuse at day-care centres.
With regards to parents wanting to ensure that day-care centres are registered, parents can contact the department on its Social Development Hotline at, 0800220250.