Pretoria – Children living at a shelter in Saulsville will be removed by the Department of Social Development after a lengthy battle over the legality of the facility and its ability to provide adequate care.
The department had to approach the court after being denied access to the Kingdom Life Youth Care Centre to establish if the allegations of mismanagement and corruption were true and to remove the children.
Last week, the Atteridgeville Children’s Court granted the department the right to remove the minors.
The parties had been embroiled in a legal dispute since 2018, with the department claiming that the centre was operating illegally.
In court papers, the department also cited claims of nepotism and financial mismanagement at the centre.
The centre, established in 2002 as a non-profit organisation and mostly existing through the kindness of the community, said in its affidavit its first priority was to care for the children.
It vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
It said it refused the department entry because there was no court order allowing officials to do so.
The department also wanted the centre to stop operating as a youth centre.
It said there was evidence of financial mismanagement and children’s care was not a priority, registration had expired and a grant of R1.3 million from the department was unaccounted for.
Further financial mismanagement was identified, and it was claimed that some of the money was transferred into the personal account of the head of the centre.
Other complaints included that there were no structured therapy programmes for the children.
It was also said the head social worker designed his own programmes, which included establishing a food garden and giving the children fatherly love instead of rendering a professional service.
Reuniting children with their families was not a priority, and they were also denied freedom of religion, in addition to allegations that the staff used corporal punishment as a method of discipline.
Alternative accommodation has been earmarked for the children.
However, the centre said department officials arrived in many cars with lots of people and claimed it could not allow this as the children were not emotionally prepared for strangers to uproot them.
It denied there was mismanagement of funds and said it tried to comply with the demands of the department.
Regarding the registration, the court found that Kingdom Life Youth Care Centre was at fault for failing to renew its registration.
It also found that children at the centre were being placed without any prescribed registration.
Plans for their removal would be discussed in due course, the department said.