A court case about the plight of a 10-year-old girl shunned by the system because of her severe behavioural problems has highlighted the desperate plight of South Africa’s “unwanted” children.
Judge Hans Fabricius this week granted an order in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria providing care placement for the girl who has a severe behavioural disorder which means that she cannot control her impulses, might endanger other children and needs specialist care.
The judge expressed concern that the girl’s care had never been managed properly and said he would manage the case going forward and expected reports on progress.
The young HIV-positive girl’s desperately ill mother gave her up for adoption after her birth, but she has been shunted between 15 different caregivers, spent time in mental health facilities, missed out on education and was at one stage arrested for assault.
The Pretoria University’s Centre for Child Law, which now represents the girl, said her plight was due to a lack of a proper government plan to manage her care and the care of other similar children.
The centre went to court after repeated requests to the government to find a suitable placement for the child fell on deaf ears.
The judge ordered the girl must be placed in a youth centre with an extra care worker allocated to her section to supplement her care. Advocate Lizzy Baloyi-Mere was appointed as a curator to protect the girl’s interests. The centre said systemic solutions have been lacking for over a decade for children with similar behavioural problems.
Karabo Ozah, an attorney at the centre, said the lack of a proper policy for care and protection for children who suffer from behavioural disorders violated the Children’s Act and their constitutional rights.
The case will continue next year, when the centre will seek a court order to force government to implement a comprehensive plan to address the needs of these children.