Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Illegal care facilities are under the microscope throughout the province. Nonhlanhla Khoza, MEC for Social Development in KwaZulu-Natal, issued a stern warning to those who refuse to follow the laws when caring for vulnerable groups.
Just outside Newcastle, a team of social workers and law enforcement agencies pounced on Centre of Hope in Osizweni, Northern KwaZulu-Natal. An illegal care facility based in an old bus depot.
Upon arrival, the teams found the elderly, disabled, and children crammed into this makeshift set-up.
Unaware of the problem facility, the Department of Social Development stated that a tipoff prompted its intervention from concerned residents who noted a hazardous environment for those under the home’s care.
The Department and other relevant stakeholders responded quickly to the reported unregistered facility and promptly relocated the residents. They were housed in various secure and registered facilities across the province.
Around 20 people from different vulnerable groups, including undocumented people, were rescued.
Adding to the sad state of affairs, the Department was informed that the facility is both an NPO and a place of care. However, upon further investigation, no documentation could be produced to back up the claims.
Furthermore, the living conditions were deplorable, and there was a complete disregard for the basic health, safety, and dignity of all the people and children housed. There was noncompliance with norms and standards, and the location was unfit for human habitation.
Upon arrival at the location, which is historically intended to provide training for repairs and maintenance to busses, the team discovered that not only did children live there, but various categories of people with a variety of challenges were also kept under the facilities care.
Following the ordeal, the Department devised potential interventions to assist the home, which could lead to the “NPO” registering as a place of care.
MEC Khoza expressed concern that the province still had people running illegal facilities, endangering the lives of vulnerable groups. Furthermore, she stated that the Department made it clear, guided by the law, that all unlawful operations had to be shut down and that those who were passionate about caring for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities had to follow the law.
“We are displeased because people open these facilities as they think of making a quick buck, exploiting vulnerable people. Any facility that takes care of vulnerable people should be registered and operate within the ambit of the law”.Nonhlanhla Khoza, MEC
The MEC went on to say that the Department was on a mission to shut down all illegal operations in the province.
She did, however, emphasise that the Department would rely on the public to share information about such facilities.
Additionally, the MEC stated that the Department would not hesitate to shut down illegal operations and ensure that those involved faced the full force of the law.
“We will have to work harder to ensure that we bring an end to any behaviour that threatens the lives of vulnerable groups in our province. Any facility must follow the law to the latter. It is also important to ensure that the facility meets all norms and standards and that means proper registration.”
Concluding she stated, “We will ensure that people found to be running illegal operations get arrested. We urge communities to be considerate when wanting to turn certain areas into residential facilities. We understand the challenges faced by some of our people, including old persons who reside alone in their homes which endanger their lives. Let’s work together to ensure the safety of our people and not put their lives at risk.”
What are your thoughts on this? Share your views in the comment section below.