Johannesburg - Yet another Joburg father has been arrested for allegedly keeping his children locked up – this time in Alexandra, northern Joburg.
The man is alleged to have kept his children captive for years.
As the father appeared in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on child neglect charges on Monday morning, his neighbours told The Star that social workers had turned a blind eye to the children’s dire circumstances.
Residents of Nobuhle hostel say that they knew since 2007 something was amiss with the man and his wife.
The couple never socialised with other people.
Their children of school-going age never played with other children and were always locked inside the house.
Neighbours say that they used to see the children – three boys and a girl – staring through the burglar bars.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, neighbours said they were worried and called social workers to check on the family.
“The social workers came. They then gave the father two weeks to get everything sorted. However, two weeks turned into five years,” one said, adding the situation never improved.
At some point they saw the girl pregnant when she and her mother were going to church.
Questions were asked about who might have impregnated the girl because she was always locked inside the house.
Last month, the residents of Nobuhle hostel took action. They had a meeting in which they decided to rescue the children.
“We went to the house and found the mother. She refused to open the door and spoke to us through the burglar bars.
“When the husband arrived from work, we got into the house and what we saw was horrible. The house was full of clutter and you had to walk sideways to get inside.
“The children fled deeper into the house when we came in as if they were seeing an animal.
“The older child, a 25-year-old man, was in chains. His wrists and ankles were chained and he was crouching on the floor.
“When we asked him questions he told us his age and that he had a child. He said he does not know what his father did with the child.”
It is believed that when the father discovered his oldest son had impregnated his sister, they had an argument.
The son fled, but when the father found him in December, he brought him home and chained him up.
The father is alleged to have said the reason he kept his children at home was because he feared that they would be kidnapped or killed.
Police spokeswoman Captain Kim Cloete could on Monday morning not confirm whether the man’s wife was also arrested, saying only: “I’m aware of a man arrested on child neglect charges.”
She said the children were taken to a house of safety.