File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The Department of Social Development has removed three young Gugulethu children who were forced to look after themselves in shocking conditions from their home.

Their mother, an alleged alcoholic, had left them alone for nearly a week with no food. The five-year-old girl and two-year-old boy were left in the care of their 12-year-old brother.

After the Cape Times queried the provincial Department of Social Development, an investigation was launched and social workers sent to the house yesterday to remove the children.

They have now been housed in a in a place of safety, according to Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez.

Neighbours said they tried to intervene by feeding the children. They also discovered that the children slept while the door was unlocked.

Primrose Siga said: “I heard about the condition of these children from my niece, who is their neighbour, and I had to see for myself. 

"I went there on Sunday and I was told their mother was last seen on Saturday. The stench when you come into the house is unbearable. The children slept on an empty stomach, so I had to bring food.

“I was informed this has been happening for years but the residents didn’t intervene because the mother was rude and violent.

“They also claimed a similar case prior to this was reported and the social department dragged their feet, so they thought this case would be the same, hence they kept quiet.”

Siga said the 2-year-old boy would wear the same nappy for days and was sometimes seen on the road alone.

On Monday, she reported the negligence at the Social Development offices in Cape Town.

The case was referred to the Gugulethu offices, but the children were never attended to.

Fernandez said: “I am horrified that children have to go through this. At the same time, I am grateful that there are watchful eyes and ears in communities who raise the alarm so that our social workers can intervene.

”We urge anyone who has information about suspected abuse and neglect to report it at your nearest Social Development local office (or contact the hotline at 080 022 0250).”

Cape Times