The Gauteng Department of Social Development has denied any truth to the allegations made by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and a source from Don Mattera against the child and youth centre in Edenvale, Bedfordview and Edenvale News reports.
The department’s spokesperson, Mbangwa Xaba, said the children, who the DA claimed had gone missing, had according to the centre’s records absconded.
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He said the children at the centre are placed there by the courts.
“They are there against their will and often abscond, and when they do we do not open a missing person’s case with the police,” said Xaba. “There is a difference between a missing person and a child absconding.”
He explained that when a child absconds from the centre, protocol is:
• The abscondment is recorded in the centre’s occurrence book.
• The abscondment is recorded in the SAPS occurrence book.
• The child’s parents are informed.
• Reunification is ensured.
“Since the allegations were made, the department requested the occurrence book from the centre, and it shows protocols were followed and some of the children who had absconded were reunited with their parents,” Xaba said. “However, we have no record of a girl placed in harm’s way in terms of child trafficking, prostitution and drug syndicates who was later found in Yeoville.
“If the DA has information about this, they need to inform the department and provide the department with the child’s name,” said Xaba.
In response to additional allegations made, which include children engaging in underage sex, mismanagement and young boys handing over their food to older boys to avoid sexual abuse, Xaba also questioned the DA and the Don Mattera source’s motivation.
“We question the intention of any person who makes allegations to the media which relate to the well-being of the children instead of approaching the department with their concerns.”
The department contests the credibility of the allegations, and Xaba accused the DA of making the allegations for political gain.
“We don’t think there is a genuine interest for the well-being of the children. There are ulterior motives,” said Xaba.
“Our procedures allow for staff members who have concerns about the well-being of the children to communicate such concerns to the head of the institution. If the head of the institution fails to address the concerns, procedures allow for the staff member to approach the deputy director of social services.
“We have looked at these allegations and have since concluded that they are fabricated and were taken to the media for ulterior motives and not for the benefit of the children’s well-being,” Xaba said.