Ombudsman, govt probe childcare facility

12 June 2018 | Government

JEMIMA BEUKES

Ombudsman John Walters and the child welfare ministry have confirmed investigations into the living conditions of orphans and vulnerable children at a state facility, where staff are allegedly not trained to look after special needs children and at least one incident of rape has been reported.

Walters told Namibian Sun the ministry has confirmed receipt of his report, which is still confidential and not yet in the public domain.

“There was one criminal case of rape that the police was investigating. The issues I raised in my report were mainly about administrative failures by the childcare facility staff,” he said.

“The staff also said they had no training in how to deal with children with special needs.

And the lack of a social worker on the premises is also a concern.”

According to deputy child welfare minister Lucia Witbooi, a special committee has been set up to investigate the conditions at the facility.

“We are aware that things are going on there. The committee has completed the investigation and compiled a report with recommendations. The ministry is working on those recommendations,” she said.

Witbooi’s response follows an interview carried by the One Africa television channel in which a former foster mother at the facility had made several shocking revelations.

Witbooi, however, highlighted its investigation is not related to allegations aired during the interview.

According to the former foster mother underage sex is rife at the facility.

When Namibian Sun approached the principal of the facility, after a long silence she said questions must be directed to the child welfare permanent secretary.

Walters said he submitted a comprehensive report on the conditions of the childcare facility to the gender ministry in January this year.

When asked about the allegations of sexual relations between minors, he said this could be the result of “boys and girls sleeping in the same bedrooms”.

“They must be separated.”

He also raised concerns about the dirty conditions at the facility and said many unoccupied homes on the premises were vandalised.

“There is also uncontrolled access to and from the home and the food is not nutritious,” he said.

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