Social workers 'inhumane' to remove orphans

A Chatsworth children's home has slated the action of local social workers who removed 16 orphans from their care.

By Santham Pillay

July 2, 2011 /timeslive

In an urgent application made at the Durban High Court on Friday, pastor Sivalingam Moodley, his wife, Muniamma, and three foster parents accused social workers employed by Child Welfare Chatsworth of acting in an "inexcusable" manner when they removed their wards in March.

"The circumstances under which the children were removed were insensitive, traumatic and inhumane," said Moodley.

He established the Community Life Centre South Africa in Welbedacht, Chatsworth, in 1999, housing orphaned children affected or infected by HIV/Aids. In January this year, Moodley applied to be registered as a Cluster Foster Care Scheme with the national Department of Social Development.

Moodley said social workers came to the centre on March 31, claiming they had a directive from the department to remove eight children.

The following day, they removed another eight.

"The children became hysterical and cried while they were bundled into the vehicles."

Moodley said no reasons were given for removing the children and the social workers didn't produce any documentation.

Lorraine Kunene, senior manager at the Department of Social Development, called Moodley's application "ill conceived" and said the cited social workers would need to be interviewed by the department. She said the children were removed after social workers discovered that they were in fact living elsewhere.

"During the profiling of the children, for their foster grant applications, it was discovered not only were the children not living with their care-givers but in some instances were not in the greater Chatsworth area."

Chief social worker Sivaghandi Omar said the children had been placed in safe homes after they were found "fending for themselves".

Judge Rishi Seegobin granted an interim consent order directing that the Chatsworth Child Welfare commissioner should investigate the actions of the social workers.

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