Study exposes shock foster care findings

Children chained to trees, forced to sleep in old water tanks, not being fed and young girls sexually abused and made pregnant are some of the shocking findings of a study into the state of foster care in the Eastern Cape. 

The study was commissioned by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and probed the living conditions of some of the 6305 foster children living in Lusikisiki and Flagstaff between July and August last year.

A total of 32033 of these children were in the OR Tambo region and 6305 in Ingquza Hill Municipality, which incorporates Lusikisiki and Flagstaff.

Presenting the findings yesterday, Maketa said the neglect of foster children was a national phenomenon that needed to be rooted out of society.

“Some foster children live houses apart from their foster parents and when we asked what they ate, they told us that they rely on handouts from villagers,” she said.

“Some of these children are sexually abused by male members of the foster families and end up being impregnated by them.

“We found that some are chained to trees, others sleep in tanks without any blankets and others are locked in houses because they are said to be mentally ill, mischievous or troublemakers.

“Please parents do not foster children only because of the money. Show them love and properly care for them,” she said.

Eastern Cape social development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi promised that her department would continue to work with police, traditional leaders and churches to fight the abuse of children and foster grants.

She told about 1000 villagers at the event to treat each child as if they were their own.

Sihlwayi said they would continue working with the police to bring those who abused foster grants to book.

“Money is the master of all evil but as a department, we have a responsibility of intervening which we can take the child from someone treating them bad and place them with another family.

“But we can also provide counselling for the families. We have a partnership with the SAPS, traditional leaders and the religious sector and we will follow those processes so as to prevent the evil spirit ruining the country because we are doing this programme to prepare and build children for the future,” Sihlwayi said.

The MEC said she would be in Port St Johns from June 22, 23 and 24 to talk to children prostituting themselves to tourists.

Maketa told Saturday Dispatch that their mandate was to strengthen relations between social workers, foster children and parents. She said the shortage of social workers and vehicles came up strongly during their month-long study. — ndamasem@dispatch.co.za

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