Picture: Jack Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – A manager at Al-Noor Orphanage in Woodstock is expected to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Tuesday after being arrested at the orphanage on Friday.

‘‘A 49-year-old suspect, a manager at Al-Noor Orphanage in Woodstock was arrested on Friday for fraud and corruption.

‘‘She was arrested during a sting operation by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation team together with the Department of Social Development (DSD). 

"At the time of the arrest there were 35 children in the building, none of whom any record existed on the premises. The DSD played a vital role in reuniting the children with their immediate families,’’ said Hawks spokesperson Philani Nkwalase.

The arrest came after the Department of Social Development (DSD) removed 17 children from the Al-Noor Child and Youth Care Centre in Woodstock after allegations of physical and sexual abuse last week.

Al-Noor Orphanage spokesperson Pat Barwise confirmed the arrest made on Friday but would not comment further.

Barwise redirected queries to their board of trustees but could not provide contact details for the committee.

Attempts to get comment from the facility manager, Nkululeko Mboniswa, also proved fruitless yesterday.

Rights protection group Women and Men Against Child Abuse said the allegations against the orphanage left them horrified.

“These children are facing secondary trauma. We trust the court will see this as an extremely serious crime in light of all the schools, crèches, churches and orphanages in the news of late,” said the group.

Last week DSD spokesperson Esther Lewis said they were conducting a preliminary investigation into a number of serious complaints of alleged physical and sexual abuse at the centre.

“The children have been placed in other child and youth care centres and are receiving the necessary social support, including assessment and counselling.

“Criminal charges have also been laid with the SAPS against the alleged perpetrators,” said Lewis.

Due to the seriousness of the allegations involving a number of children at the home, Lewis said the department had deemed it necessary to remove the children and place them in temporary alternative accommodation to ensure their safety while criminal investigations were under way.

Barwise said last week that the removal of the children was not done in a “child-friendly” manner.

“The home was not issued with any tangible reasons nor notice of removal, the management of Al-Noor made several attempts to communicate with the department with regard to a plan of action and to urge that due process be followed,” said Barwise.

Meanwhile, three Gugulethu children who were removed from their home by the department after being neglected by their alleged alcoholic mother have been placed in a reputable facility, according to a good Samaritan who had reported their living conditions to the department.

Primrose Siga had witnessed the conditions of the children, a girl aged 5 and a boy aged 2, who were left in the care of their 12-year-old brother for nearly a week with no food.

“I was so emotional to see the children happy and clean. I know the home they’ve been placed in has a very good reputation,” said Siga.

Anyone who has information about suspected abuse and neglect is urged to report it at their nearest Social Development local office or contact the hotline at 0800 220 250.

Cape Times