KWAZULU-NATAL Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza has warned parents not to enrol their children at unregistered early childhood development (ECD) centres.
This comes after the death of a toddler who fell into a pit latrine at a crèche in Thornwood, Ward 15 of eThekwini municipality.
The department said it was alleged that the child was reported missing after children were taken to an ablution facility during the day last week.
It said that after a few minutes the teacher noticed during a headcount that the child was missing and she searched for the child in vain.
“A long search for the child failed and his lifeless body was later found in a pit latrine after police were involved,” it said.
After the department was informed about the incident, the MEC dispatched a team of social workers to the crèche. The team discovered that it was operating illegally.
Khoza said it was very hurtful to learn that there were people who still continued to operate illegal ECD centres in the province, putting the lives of children at risk.
“Our preliminary report reveals that the centre has been operating without registration and hiring staff not vetted against the Child Protection Register. These illegal operations lead us to face such challenges,” she said.
She said the whole situation was very disappointing because the department led campaigns encouraging daycare and crèche operators to register in order to protect their children.
“We warn people to desist from operating illegal ECD centres, crèches and daycare centres or face the full might of the law. We are a country that is governed by laws and everyone operating such facilities should do so within the ambit of the law,” she said.
Khoza sent her heartfelt condolences to the family of the child who died.
“This is a very difficult time for the family as they were still expecting a lot from him. Our team will provide psychological support to the family during this difficult time,” she said.
The MEC added that a team of social workers had been assigned to monitor the operation of that ECD as it did not show that there was negligence and lack of supervision on the side of the crèche.
“This was an unfortunate situation. It is imperative to offer necessary support to the victim’s family and employees of the ECD in order for them to be able to deal with the psychological and emotional impact as a result of this horrific assault. This centre has 46 children enrolled, ranging between 2 and 5 years. However, we are not going to tolerate the operation of illegal ECD centres,” she said.
Khoza said the department had intervened in a number of abuse cases in the last few weeks.
She condemned the constant abuse of children in the province, stating that any form of violence against children needed harsher punishment imposed.
“The sporadic violent incidents directed at children involving their relatives and people known to them is very concerning. The forcing of the child to eat the flesh of a dead puppy in Umtubatuba is one of the incidents that left us in shock. We will only be relieved when the alleged perpetrator gets arrested. The tying up of a seven-year-old boy with a rope to a wooden pallet in the area of eZimbokwedweni was another shocking incident,” she said.