The allegations of child neglect against Samaritan Children’s Home and its house mother, Sara Galane and the subsequent traumatic removal of 22 children a fortnight ago, are nothing but a conspiracy between an unhappy caregiver and jealous Department of Social Development employees.
This opinion was expressed by the home’s ambassador Tlou Dinyake (16) who is also Miss Teen Commonwealth 2018. Tlou has been closely involved with the children’s home over the past few years.
Her conviction that the so-called scandal is a conspiracy is echoed by one of the home’s long-standing residents, a 17-year-old boy who has been in Galane’s, and later the home’s, care since he was just one year old. The boy, who is a learner at Capricorn High School, did not wish to be identified as, according to him, being a person brought up in a children’s home stigmatises him among his peers.
Several other roleplayers including a nursing sister and a member of the board also backed the conspiracy theory. Asked why this would be so, it was further alleged that certain people were jealous of Galane, the home and its success and wanted to bring it down.
Galane, who was advised by her legal representative, John Mohoto, not to discuss the matter as it is sub judice, merely told Polokwane Observer that “the truth will come out”. Mohoto confirmed that the matter of the grants as well as custody of the children is currently being heard in court and the case has been postponed to 22 May.
According to the mentioned role players, Galane has taken care of orphaned and abandoned children for some 18 years and maintained an immaculate reputation. The children’s home has enjoyed the support of several corporate companies and individuals to date. There was such a huge need for her service that Samaritan Children’s Home expanded and was necessitated to add two more houses in order to look after the children properly.
“The children’s grants were being paid regularly, and inspections by the department were also done regularly without any problems. Then suddenly after one inspection early this year, payment of grants were stopped. Enquiries were made to the department and it was found that they had cancelled the grants as Samaritan allegedly did not comply with the prerequisites anymore. The prerequisites listed were ridiculous and could have been remedied quickly and easily had the department deigned to communicate properly with us. For example, they said a fire exit was blocked and they were not happy with the board we have in place,” a member of the board told Polokwane Observer.
“As for the so-called photo of the children sleeping on the floor, that photo was also set up. The caregiver who is unhappy about not having received payment due to the grants being stopped, asked the kids to lie down with their backs to her, and took the photo herself, which she then leaked to the media,” the board member further said.
All the sources Polokwane Observer spoke to were adamant that the children have always had more than enough food and proper transport to and from school.
Just two weeks ago, the children were removed by the department from Galane’s care and taken to Polokwane Place of Safety. According to eye-witnesses of the children’s removal, the children were in a huge panic and some tried to run away so as not to be removed.
Tlou and Galane’s 17-year-old ward said the department’s action was very traumatising for the children, who love living at Samaritan Children’s Home.
“No one considered the children’s rights in this matter. No one spoke directly with them to inform them about what was happening. Where is the humanity that welfare organisations are supposed to practise?” Tlou questioned.
Previously Social Development Spokesperson Joel Seabi confirmed that the grants had been stopped as the centre no longer complied with the conditions stipulated as a pre-requsite for funding. The removal of the children was also confirmed.
However, prior to going to print this week, Seabi was unavailable for comment to react to the conspiracy allegations and Polokwane Observer’s telephone calls, text messages and e-mails were left unanswered.
Story: KAREN VENTER