Centre for Child Law speaks out against assault of juvenile inmates
The assault of juvenile inmates at the at the Bosasa Mogale youth centre in Krugersdorp, which was recently exposed via video footage published by News24, has raised the ire of the Centre for Child Law (CCL).
CCL director Ann Skelton told News24 on Tuesday that the centre noted "with grave concern the unacceptable assault of children" at the facility.
"When the new government first came to power in 1994, the Cabinet requested a national investigation into facilities housing children. I think we are at that point again," Skelton added.
The footage, which was taken on April 3, 2017, shows how the teenagers – both sentenced and awaiting-trial inmates – were forced to take off their clothes and lie on the ground.
Security guards could be seen assaulting the boys and one approached one of the teens with what looked like a stopper gun. However, his colleague held him back. The assault later continued.
Bosasa spokesperson Papa Leshabane previously told News24 that the incident happened after a "hostage situation" at the facility.
"It took place at a time when there was a national Nehawu (National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union) strike and we had accepted kids from the Walter Sisulu centre, over and above the ones we had.
"It is not like we woke up in the morning and started hitting kids. We were dealing with a very unfortunate situation," Leshabane said at the time.
He said about 45 boys stormed into the social workers' offices and held two staff members hostage. One of the staff members was pregnant at the time, he said.
In recent years, the CCL had approached the courts requesting that developmental quality assurance processes be carried out at centres where problems had been raised, Skelton added.
She said the processes had highlighted worrying issues.
"Children concerned were found to be living in poor physical conditions and some were receiving no education or developmental input, and [they had highlighted] that staff were not interested in caring for the children."
Skelton pointed out that these problems were found in facilities run by the government. The Bosasa facility is run by a private provider.
She also added that the Department of Social Development should strengthen the monitoring and accountability of child and youth care centres (CYCCs).
"We need to take stock of what is going wrong in our CYCCs, identify the good practices, and rethink our approach to residential care of children," Skelton added.
Meanwhile, the Gauteng Department of Social Development, which gave the tender to Bosasa to run the programme, previously told News24 that in light of the footage. it would approach the centre to "re-examine this incident".
Spokesperson Mbangwa Xaba said the department would not accept children being harmed in any form.