Sexual abuse claims at CT orphanage, manager 'under the influence of alcohol'

The Department of social welfare has removed 16 children from a local Woodstock orphanage. The head of the orphanage Amina Madien was arrested by the Hawks on charges of fraud and corruption.

Now allegations of sexual abuse have emerged.

CapeTalk contacted the orphanage and was told that only volunteers were present, and no staff members were available to talk to the radio station.

MEC for Social Development Sharna Fernandez talks to Lester Kiewit about what has happened.

There are two issues. The one is the matter of the children that were removed. And the other separate matter which is being undertaken by Saps and the Hawks, and that is the arrest of the owner.

Sharna Fernandez, MEC for Social Development - Western Province government

The timing is coincidental but it is two very separate issues.

Sharna Fernandez, MEC for Social Development - Western Province government

She responds to the allegations of sexual abuse at the orphanage.

It is so sad because, at a place where you should be protected, you are allegedly being abused.

Sharna Fernandez, MEC for Social Development - Western Province government

There has been an ongoing cloud of controversy hanging over the institution, she confirms.

Our most recent was a charge that was laid from two years ago. A child that had left the orphanage and placed in foster care and that young child alerted the foster parents to certain things that were happening.

Sharna Fernandez, MEC for Social Development - Western Province government

This case was handled by Saps and she acknowledges that it progressed rather slowly.

Then two weeks ago, on a Wednesday, we got a tip-off alleging sexual abuse and sexual grooming. We sent a team in and met with the manager and did a check.

Sharna Fernandez, MEC for Social Development - Western Province government

Interviews were then conducted with some children staying in the orphanage and others who had left. This resulted in three sworn affidavits and two additional cases being opened with the police.

We then realised we had a problem on our hands and we needed to move swiftly...to get the children out of that facility. hence the decision to go in on Monday and remove them to two of our youth care centres.

Sharna Fernandez, MEC for Social Development - Western Province government

She reiterates that discussions were held with the manager two weeks ago and the department has followed norms and standards regarding the checks.

When the team arrived on Monday to collect the children, the manager was under the influence of alcohol. He was then confronted and his response was that he was off duty.

Sharna Fernandez, MEC for Social Development - Western Province government

Most of the children have been placed in foster care and some even returned to their homes, says Fernandez.

It is actually quite scary what is surfacing.

Sharna Fernandez, MEC for Social Development - Western Province government

She says a fourth charge is being processed.

The department has chosen to deregister the facility.

Listen to the interview below:


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