KZN MEC Mbali Shinga starts abuse investigation into children’s home

KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Mbali Shinga, second from left, accompanied by department officials and Aryan Benevolent Children's Home board members. Picture: Supplied

KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Mbali Shinga, second from left, accompanied by department officials and Aryan Benevolent Children's Home board members. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 3, 2024


Durban — The KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Mbali Shinga has ordered an investigation into the allegations of abuse in the Aryan Benevolent Children’s Home in Chatsworth, south of Durban.

The MEC visited the home on Tuesday after allegations of child abuse surfaced recently. There have been claims that a group of children living at the home had suffered at the hands of their care workers.

Shinga announced a series of measures that the Department of Social Development would implement in response to these allegations.

Accompanied by senior officials from the department, including the accounting officer, Nelisiwe Vilakazi, Shinga announced the appointment of a team of investigators to uncover what happened at the home.

The team has been given three weeks to complete its investigation and compile a report for her review. Children at the centre have reportedly been assaulted with wet towels and belts. Following these allegations, the implicated care workers were subjected to a disciplinary hearing conducted by the board of directors and were subsequently expelled. The MEC said, however, that expelling these workers was not enough.

She emphasised that the care workers must face further punitive measures to ensure they are held accountable for their actions.

Shinga reiterated the Department of Social Development’s legal mandate to ensure the protection of children. She met the management of the home and the board of directors to determine how they handled the matter.

While she appreciated the home’s prompt action, she stressed the importance of dealing with every allegation swiftly to ensure the protection of children.

“We were disappointed and shocked to learn that individuals entrusted with the care and protection of vulnerable children have taken advantage of their position to abuse them. These children arrive in this home coming from abusive backgrounds,” she said.

Shinga said that although it was commendable that the board of directors had initiated an investigation, the department would conduct a full-scale probe into the allegations to determine what happened and how long the abuse had been occurring.

She said the accused should face criminal charges and be reported to the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP), where they are registered to practice. Furthermore, the childcare workers’ names should be recorded in the child protection register to mark them as transgressors of child protection rights.

“We have been mandated by the Children’s Act to ensure the protection of children. Therefore, anyone found to have violated the rights of children should face the full might of the law.”

Shinga said her department remained steadfast in its mission to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

The children’s home’s general manager, Ray Naguran, told the Daily News’s sister publication that criminal charges had been laid at a police station in Chatsworth.

“We learnt about this disturbing news last month, and as soon as we heard about it we dismissed the workers who were involved. Our priority at this centre is the safety and security of our children. There were reports about our children being beaten with belts and others either being punched or slapped.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy around abuse of children. Childline KZN is also conducting its investigation” said Nuguran.

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