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Reformatory CP - July 1997

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Cape Argus, Cape Town, 4 July 1997

Shelter kids 'prey on staff'

Head rejects children's abuse claims

By Lindsay Barnes, Crime Desk

Children at a Stellenbosch place of safety are preying on the staff and have become unruly and abusive since the abolition of corporal punishment, the principal says.

Lindelani headmaster Henry Linders claims there is nothing he or the five teachers can do to enforce discipline at the institution and the children know this.

He was responding to a report in the Cape Argus last week detailing the children's allegations of fraud, theft and mismanagement by staff members.

Mr Linders said that since the introduction of the Bill of Rights it was the children who abused the staff and not vice versa.

Earlier this month the Department of Social Welfare launched a full-scale investigation into Lindelani after allegations that children were going hungry because staff and some children were removing food from the kitchen.

Lindelani houses about 60 abused and neglected children between six and 17 who have been removed from their parents' custody, as well as, on average, 10 juveniles awaiting trial on criminal charges.

Mr Linders said these days the children were unmanageable and not interested in activities the staff organised for them.

"They abuse the staff verbally and in some cases physically. We are not preying on them. They are preying on us," he said.

"The children vandalise the place and there is no effective way of punishing them. When we had corporal punishment three or four years ago we could discipline them. Now a percentage of these children are uncontrollable."

All Material © copyright Independent Newspapers 1997.

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