DURBAN: A KwaZulu-Natal couple are embroiled in a desperate battle to stop social welfare officials from removing their adopted and foster children because of “untrue and subjective” allegations that they are involved in child trafficking.

An advocate appointed by the high court to represent the eight children, who range in age from 12 to three, says the children love their parents very much, are legally placed with them and it is the Department of Social Welfare’s social workers who are traumatising them.

The child trafficking allegations were apparently made recently by a group of illegal occupiers of land owned by the couple after the couple attempted to evict them.

Judge Ploos van Amstel appointed advocate Stuart Humphrey, urging that the parties adopt a sensible approach, including “the discharge of the removal order”.

In his report, Humphrey said the six older children had been adopted by the couple and the younger two, who are twins, are fostered. Regarding the couple, he said they were “decent, loving and caring, and the thought that all or any of their children could be removed from them is unimaginable”.

“They have enormous love for them. They have provided them with a safe, secure and idyllic home life.”

He said he had perused all the adoption orders and the foster-care orders. He said the children were all home-schooled and the couple had been criticised because they had not registered them.

“When this was brought to their attention, they enrolled the older children in a local school and have made the relevant applications,” he said.

The children, he said, showed great affection to their parents. They said they were “terrified” when the social workers arrived unannounced one day.

He said because the couple had refused to allow them to interview the children, the couple were now being accused of “having something to hide”.

“It is quite apparent that this is not a case of child trafficking. The allegations are baseless… It is most disconcerting that social workers, whose job it is to protect children from harm, have contributed to their trauma.”

Social worker Fortunate Xulu accused the couple of “moving and hiding” the children, and said there was “good reason” to remove them.