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Johannesburg -  A group of about twenty toddlers and a four-month-old baby were left in the cold with no access to food, toilet facilities and warmth after being locked out of their creche on Monday morning.

When the Star team arrived, a number of children could be seen urinating on the floor and others sitting in a cold garage next to the Hope Fountain Early Learning Centre in Doornfontein. They sit unaware that they have been locked out of their creche because their teacher and the founder of the creche owes about R41 000 in rent to the building managers.

Busisiwe Dlamini, the owner of Hope Fountain Early Learning Centre arrived there yesterday morning to find her children standing in the streets and the gates locked. Dlamini moved the children into the carport next to the creche despite the fact that the building managers allocated space for the children until their parents arrive. She said the space was unsuitable for children. “What am I supposed to do with all these children?” she said. “Their parents know what is happening, they just left the children and told me to update them on the developments.”

“The reason why our rental is behind is that we have children who are exempted from paying. We have 45 children, 15 of them are exempted and 30 paying children. Our reasons why we have accumulated arrears is that our numbers are low and we’ve been paying for the renovations every since we started,” she said. “The bulk of the money goes into buying food for the children, paying for renovations and salaries. We mainly survive on the fees that the parents pay and some of them don’t pay at the same time. It’s difficult to put the money together.”  

Dlamini started Hope Fountain in September 2016 in the basement of the residential building on Buxton Street. It was created as a value-added service for the building residents but is also used by neighbouring people. The creche catered for 45 children between three-months-old and six-years-old. The rent for the creche is R6 000 a month and the parents pay R500 a month for their children. 

The management of the building said Dlamini had not paid the rent in seven months and when asked about the rent, she would make excuses. According to them, he owes them a total of R49 000, including the construction costs. 

The management says that they allocated a space next to the creche for the children to stay until their parents fetch them. “I think this woman is not going to pay up her bill and we’re going to have to sue her for the money and hopefully we’ll find someone more reliable and we’ll open up the creche again,” he added. 

“We have allocated staff to tell the parents when they arrive that the school teacher has not paid her rent for seven months and that she has dishonoured whatever agreement she made with us in terms of paying something, not the whole thing, something,” he said. “They will be told that they need to find another suitable place for their child.”

Dlamini said she would have appreciated if the management had given them an eviction notice to give them time to make another plan. “If he had locked me out of my own house, I have no problem with that but these are other people’s children who were left outside,” she said.

The Star