Kids miss­ing af­ter court grants re­moval

‘Par­ents use drugs, be­long to cult’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ZELDA VEN­TER

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.

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