KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC, Nonhlanhla Khoza, has officially opened a case of child abuse and neglect at the Mehlomnyama police station, against the parents of a seven-year-old boy.
This follows shocking pictures circulating on social media, showing the boy’s bruises, as he suffered assaults from his 17-year-old stepbrother.
Khoza, together with Ugu District Municipality Mayor, Sizwe Ngcobo and Umzumbe Local Municipality Mayor, Londolo Zungu, held a meeting with police management on Tuesday after reports that the police had allegedly arrested the stepbrother, but later released him without the parole officer’s consent.
It is alleged that when the matter was reported to the police, they urged the family to “settle it as a family.”
Speaking to media outside the police station, Khoza said although the police have done their job to arrest the perpetrator, the department is concerned about the decision to release him.
“It is unacceptable that a child can suffer such injuries in the presence of an older person at home,” Khoza said.
Khoza raised concerns about the circumstances that could have led to the 17-year-old stepbrother becoming so violent.
“We have the best interests of the children [at heart]. Cases of child abuse and neglect are very serious. We want the police do justice to the matter, as violence directed at women and children cannot be tolerated,” Khoza said.
The MEC said social workers have managed to trace the biological mother of the boy at Ntumeni, Eshowe.
Khoza has also met the child at a place of safety, where he is currently accommodated.
The child was united with his biological mother, who travelled from Eshowe after social workers made contact with her.
“We are happy that the child was removed from that toxic environment and is now united with his mother. We will be observing the child at the place of safety before any other option can be explored, including allowing him to go stay with his mother.
“We are happy to see the child playing after he has gone through such an ordeal. The child is now in safe hands,” Khoza said.
Citizens commended for interest in child’s wellbeing
Khoza has commended citizens, who have shown interest in the wellbeing of the child.
“We are more grateful to the whistle-blower who refused to sit back while a child suffered. Our social workers have also been assigned to assess the alleged perpetrator,” the MEC said.
Mayor Ngcobo said they are extremely worried about this incident, hence they want to see police effecting arrests.
“It cannot be correct that a child gets assaulted like this and no one accounts for it,” Ngcobo said.
Mayor Zungu commended the department of Social Development for taking up the matter.
“As soon as we heard about the incident on Sunday, we took it upon ourselves to contact the police. Social workers came on board to ensure the child was removed. He was taken to hospital for medical attention.
“However, the arrest and release of the stepbrother… is very concerning to us. However, we have confidence that the police will do a thorough investigation into this matter,” Zungu said.