After an emotional and traumatic few days, there is a glimmer of hope. The children from Môrester Children’s Home are coming home.
KwaZulu-Natal Christian Social Services (KZN CSS) brought an urgent application to the Pietermaritzburg High Court today, February 20, to ensure the safe return of all the Môrester children who were forcibly removed on February 15 and February 16 by DSD officials and the Police force.
The removal and relocation of these children has sparked an outrage amongst the community and organisations who questioned the DSDs handling of the matter.
The court ruled in favour of the CSS and instructed the DSD to return all the Children to their respective child and youth care centres within the next 36 hours. Furthermore, instructing them that they may not be removed again by the department. The court also ruled the DSD shall carry the cost of the application brought by the CSS.
The court also ordered the department to conduct a thorough investigation concerning the allegations it has purported against the children’s homes and set a date for its completion by March 18.
Specific instruction was given the investigation must be conducted in such a way that the children are not traumatised any further. The court also instructed the CSS to provide its full support in this investigation and included that parents and legal guardians of the children must be consulted in this investigation as well.
Reverend Gerhard Botha, CEO of KZN Christian Social Services, said the outcome of the initial hearing today was a first step towards justice for the children in the care of the homes.
“We are so grateful that the Court ruled in favor of the children who were the victims of this irresponsible act. Our children are to be returned within the next 36 hours, unharmed and safe. We are very concerned about their wellbeing.”
“So much unnecessary trauma and distress was caused by this unwarranted act, our children, personnel and care-workers suffered severely during this raid. Much remains unanswered. Have procedures been followed?” Botha asked.
The DSD was also ordered to submit all documents regarding the removal of the children by no later than Friday, 22 February.
Rev. Botha concludes by confirming the next hearing date is set for March 25, where the judge will decide if his ruling will become a permanent order.
“We praise the Lord that the interest of our children has prevailed today, we thank the community and other organisations for their support and prayers,” concludes Botha.