SHONGOANE — The Department of Social Development opened an investigation in 2013 when it was reported to them that a family living in Shongoane, Steve Biko, never see the outside of their house. According to Warrant Officer Frans Mokoena, Lephalale SAPS spokesperson, the social development source alerted social workers that eleven children were locked up in the house and they never see them outside the house.
The investigation started on 8 February 2013. W.O. Mokoena says the mother was interviewed by the investigating officer, but she refused to say anything without her husband’s consent. She also refused to show the children to the police. According to W.O. Mokoena, the police met the father at Hoërskool Ellisras’ premises on 13 February 2013 where he informed them that he was applying for his child to attend the school. He was questioned again on 14 February 2013 and he told the police that his child was accepted by the school and he was waiting for a response.
On 15 February 2013 a social worker met with him and he indicated that all the children were admitted to the school but according to W.O. Mokoena, he claimed that he didn’t have money for transport and school uniforms, so the children could not attend school yet.
On 18 February 2013 a social worker visited him at his house in order to follow the progress of the situation. “He told her he needs five days to sort out his problems after which the children will attend school” W.O. Mokoena says.
On 25 February 2013 a case was opened for child neglect, emotional isolation, lack of proper development, delays in operational skills and lack of the correct stimulation. Another case was opened for negligent education, refusal to assume parental responsibilities, lack of medical and physical care. W.O. Mokoena says at that stage it was impossible to say whether the children were sexually abused, because the social worker was refused contact with the children. He however says that the conditions in the house were extremely poor. The house was full of dirty nappies and littered with garbage. There were also no bathroom facilities.
On Friday 4 March 2016, Villa Nora SAPS received a call-out to assist as back-up for the social workers from Polokwane as the case was re-opened. W.O. Mokoena says when they arrive at the house, the mother still refused access to the house and they had no other option but to cut the lock at the gate. At the front door, the woman still refused them entry and she said she was waiting for her husband. W.O. Mokoena says the police ended up forcing her out of the way to enter the house. They found nine children in the house, born from 1992 – 2012. “They were very aggressive and one could tell that they were not used to people. The conditions were appalling and the house was a mess. One room was used for dirty nappies. There were no toilet facilities. One could see that they had a difficult life. No-one can live in that house” W.O. Mokoena said.
The parents were arrested on Friday 4 March and the children were taken to Polokwane says W.O. Mokoena. Apparently the father said to the police that he will order the children not to eat if they take them away.
They appeared in Witpoort Magistrate’s court on Monday 7 March and the case was postponed to Wednesday 9 March. At the time of going to press they were still in Villa Nora SAPS holding cells.
According to W.O. Mokoena the father is employed at Lephalale TVET College but this could not be confirmed. Apparently the family lived in Gauteng previously.