Photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance has asked KwaZulu-Natal social development MEC Weziwe Thusi to "urgently intervene to prevent a KZN Esidimeni catastrophe in northern KZN".

DA MP and Uthukela constituency head Alf Lees said officials from the social development department accompanied by armed policemen had arrived unannounced on Friday at three children’s homes in northern KwaZulu-Natal - MoreSter Children’s Home in Ladysmith, MoreSter Children’s Home in Newcastle, and Home Meah in Newcastle.

"According to reliable sources about the raid on MoreSter Ladysmith the officials traumatised children from a one-month old baby to a 20-year-old by storming in and removing the children, some forcibly as they tried to barricade themselves in," he said in a statement on Sunday.

The children were transported "to towns all over KZN, including Richards Bay, Margate, Port Shepstone, Newcastle, and Victory Haven in Ladysmith". Among other things, the officials had no food for the children and their parents had not been informed, he said.

"Some children have already run away from the places that they were dumped at and returned to the Ladysmith MoreSter home. It has been alleged that there was abuse of the children taking place at one of the homes, but surprisingly apparently not a single member of management or staff at the homes has been charged or arrested."

There could be no reason for the traumatic experience that the children had been put through and apparently continued to be exposed to.

Lees called on KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu and Thusi to immediately take action to ensure all the children were being properly and lovingly cared for, contact parents to inform them where their children were and why they were moved, and make transport available to all parents to visit their children.

They should also publicly account for the reasons for removing the children from the homes, the legality of the action taken to remove the children, the manner in which the children were removed, where each child had been placed, the medication and special needs that each child may require, for not taking any action against home management and staff, and the reasons why the children could not be left in the homes under the emergency care of departmental staff or other qualified staff.

"I have written to the KZN premier Willies Mchunu to request that he take urgent action to save the children. We hope and pray that this is not a repeat of the [Life] Esidimeni catastrophe [in Gauteng]," Lees said.

African News Agency (ANA)