Rescued as a baby, beaten to death at 3
A CHILD found beaten to death at her home in Chatsworth, Durban, last week was rescued on that city’s beachfront when she was just six weeks old after allegedly being sold to a man for R100, according to the police.
The Star has established that metro police officers rescued her as an infant on June 9, 2011 at North Beach.
The girl, whose father is in prison in Cape Town, was living with her grandmother when she died.
She had been placed there by Child Welfare social workers acting in terms of a court order.
On Thursday, the police were called to the home to remove her battered body.
She had apparently suffered several injuries, including cigarette burns, which has raised questions about whether Child Welfare failed her.
But the protective agency has denied the allegation and said regular visits were made over the past three years.
Child Welfare insisted there were no signs of abuse during those visits, but admitted the organisation was hampered by a serious shortage of social workers and swamped by thousands of cases in Chatsworth alone.
The little girl’s 55-year-old grandmother and 31-year-old mother have been taken into police custody pending the results of the post-mortem.
Her two siblings are staying with a relative.
The children’s paternal grandparents arrived from their home in Cape Town yesterday.
A metro police officer who helped rescue her three years ago said she was heartbroken that the child had been found murdered.
“It broke us back then when we found her on the beach. She was this tiny little girl, six weeks old, with the most beautiful eyes.
“When we took her in, there were so many people who wanted to adopt her,” said the policewoman, who cannot be named as she is not authorised to speak about the case.
“Somehow, she fell through the cracks and ended up back with the mother and grandmother.”
But Chatsworth Child Welfare president Logan Naidu insisted that after the courts had placed the child with the grandmother, social workers visited the home several times.
In February, the court order expired for the temporary placement of the girl, and social workers had to get a district surgeon to examine her in order for them to make the grandmother her legal guardian.
“The district surgeon checked her physically and did not find anything,” Naidu said.
He said the last visit from social workers was four months ago.
“When we did our last supervision, we didn’t find any signs of physical abuse.”
Naidu said their Child Welfare centre had 10 social workers dealing with about 5 000 children a year.
He explained that the shortage of resources was one of the issues they were faced with in their need for constant supervision. He said they needed 30 more social workers.
“I can assure you, we are doing our best at this point in time, and from our side.
“We are already investigating. The social worker dealing with the child has been asked to give a full written report on the issue. We have worked with him for a while.”
Naidu said that while community anger over the death of the child was justified, they should not blame Child Welfare.
Asked if the organisation would do anything differently in light of the incident, Naidu said: “We do everything by the book.
“Over the period of time, there were no signs of abuse.
“We have reports of our supervision in our offices to prove this.
“The only issue is resources. We are responsible for the child and other siblings, but that doesn’t mean we are doing visits every day or every week,” he said.
Ncumisa Fandesi, spokeswoman for KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi, said yesterday they were aware of the murder.
“Our social workers are working with the police,” she said.
WHEN HOME’S NOT A SAFE PLACE: Teddies on the security gate of a Chatsworth house where a toddler was found dead on Thursday.