Kids missing after court grants removal
‘Parents use drugs, belong to cult’
HOURS after the Mthatha High Court granted permission for two toddlers to be removed from their drug-using parents who are reportedly part of a nomadic cult, the parents and their children had disappeared.
The order was granted yesterday after shocking details emerged in an affidavit by relatives who said they were trying to rescue the children, a girl of two and a boy of one.
A brother aged five was taken away from his parents when he was three to live with his grandparents.
Another child died before his first birthday. It was stated his parents did not bother to fetch his body from the morgue, saying they were “done” with him. The child’s mother told concer ned family members “not to grieve too much, as the Bible said it would turn you into a bad person”.
The parties may not be named to protect the children. But their aunt, who lives in Sinoville, Pretoria, said she, her husband and her other sister wanted to take care of the toddlers. The children’s mother is their half-sister.
The court heard that for some time the family had wanted to apply for an order for the children to be left in their care. But as the parents were constantly on the move between Port St John’s, Botha’s Hill and Eshowe they never knew where to locate them.
The matter was brought before the Mthatha High Court as the parents were living in the bush in the area.
The family told the court the parents used the drug Ecstacy and claimed the father, who was 20 years older than the mother, was “extremely aggressive”.
The family said the mother was totally under his influence. The couple hardly ever washed and the man did not allow her to wear underwear. When the family saw the parents in November, they were shocked at the appearance of their sister and the children.
“She was eight months pregnant, thin and filthy. She had no clothes and to our shock we discovered she was wearing no underwear. They all had a terrible odour.”
The man also forbade the woman to speak to her family. They did not use the toilet, but preferred to relieve themselves outside. After the child was born, the family took provisions to where the parents lived in the mountains outside Port St John’s, apparently with fellow cult members.
“We were shocked to see children, ranging from infancy to five years old, wandering around by themselves, with very little or no clothes on, in the cold weather. The air was filled with dagga. There were no toilet facilities or electricity,” the sister told the court.
When they saw the parents on another occasion, their baby was wrapped in only a towel – he wore no clothes or a nappy. She said the child was filthy and had scabs on his head.
She said the children’s father was smoking dagga in front of them. “We were very upset to hear the child was made to inhale dagga to help him sleep. He even had a little pipe through which he blew so the fumes could reach the baby’s nostrils.”
When the family again saw the parents, and the children who had meanwhile been born, the children were covered in dirt and scabs, as well as insect bites. “This did not bother their parents in the least,” the sister said.
When they last saw the mother, she was barefoot, her feet were stained black with dirt and covered in terrible sores.
Ferdi Hartzenberg, the worried family’s attorney, said the matter was extremely urgent as the toddlers were “in great physical danger” if they were not immediately removed from their parents’ care.
Late yesterday, when police went to execute the order, the parents and children were no longer at the location.
Hartzenberg urged anyone with information on the children’s whereabouts to contact him urgently on 082 572 0101.