Manager arrested, children removed

The Al-Noor Orphanage in Woodstock

The Department of Social Development has revoked Al-Noor Orphanage’s registration, after it removed 17 children from the home last week amid complaints of alleged physical and sexual abuse.

The 49-year-old manager of the centre was subsequently arrested on Friday June 14, during a sting operation by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation team together with the department at the home.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Philani Nkwalase said the manager had appeared in Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday June 18, on charges of fraud and corruption relating to donor funds for the centre that were redirected to a personal account and used for personal gain.

“At the time of the arrest there were 35 children in the building none of whom any record existed on the premises.”

“The department played a vital role in reuniting the children with their immediate families,” said Captain Nkwalase.

The case was postponed to Tuesday June 25.

Spokesperson Esther Lewis said the department had removed 17 children from the centre after conducting a preliminary investigation into a number of serious complaints.

“Due to the seriousness of the allegations, involving a number of children at the home, the department had deemed it necessary to remove and place the children in temporary alternative accommodation in terms of Section 173 of the Children’s Act to ensure their safety while criminal investigations are under way. The department will thereafter find alternative longer term placement for these children,” she said.

“The children had been placed in other child and youth care centres and are receiving the necessary social support, including assessment and counselling.”

In a statement last week, Al-Noor Orphanage spokesperson Patricia Barwise said the department had forcefully removed 16 not 17 children on Monday June 10 at 4pm.

She said the department had failed to inform the children about the process and had forced them to take all their belongings.

“The home was not issued with any tangible reasons nor notice of removal. Management made several attempts to communicate with DSD with regards to the plan of action and asking that due process be followed. The system and the process were indeed unfair and not in the best interest of the children.”

The statement read further: “The children are currently placed in juvenile delinquent centres – where drug addicts and at-risk children are placed. Our children are undoubtedly not in conducive placements. The home had not been provided an opportunity to respond or attend to these allegations, but instantly crucified by the department without engaging us.”

But when the Tatler, called Ms Barwise yesterday, Wednesday June 19 asking for a comment on the latest developments, she said it would be best to contact the attorneys handling the case, but said she could not recall their names and did not have any contact numbers.

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