Cape Town - Children who were evicted with their families from a shelter for abused women scattered in all directions as they hid from social workers after being told that they would be taken away from their parents.
They were among 64 children and 26 adults who were ordered to leave Geneva’s House, a 13-year-old centre for abused women and children in Eerste River, on Thursday.
Social workers wanted to remove the children after their parents apparently refused to move into alternative accommodation after their eviction, according to Sihle Ngobese, provincial Social Development spokesman.
Yesterday afternoon, evictees described how their children took cover from social workers for fear they would be taken from them, after being traumatised by the eviction.
One said the social workers told them if the children were removed, they may only see them next in three or four years.
Neighbour Brandon Klaasen confirmed the children had fled.
Ngobese said the centre was supposed to house victims of abuse, but was being misused by homeless people. Police had also reported gangsters were operating from it.
But Geneva Claassens, who started the shelter, and volunteer Unice Louw denied this was the case. They said there were some homeless people, but that most were abused women and children.
A homeless family, mother Somayya Pietersen, her husband, their two daughters and her mother Maria Makda, were among those still sitting outside on Saturday on mattresses and chairs surrounded by bags filled with belongings including pots, books and schoolclothes.
Makda said: “It’s the first time in my life something like this has happened to me. I have to stay strong because if I cave in… that’s another story.”
Cheryl Siebritz, who said she moved to the centre 13 years ago after being abused by her husband, said she had nowhere else to go. She had been on the housing waiting list for 28 years.
“We are not animals to be thrown out like this. How can they do this to women who have been abused?” the woman said.
Another couple who were evicted said they were now sleeping on a nearby field, while others had moved to a temporary shelter.
Claassens said the eviction followed a rape allegation levelled against her son, which she said was mentioned in the eviction order served on them.
Although not listed in the order, Claassens also blamed three women who apparently laid complaints with Social Services after being kicked out of the centre.
She said these women had been using drugs and working as sex workers.
Various evictees described how a group of about 20 men arrived in two huge trucks, accompanied by a sheriff and ordered them to leave.
The men loaded up their belongings and dropped them on an adjacent field, they said.