THE Department of Social Development has urged mothers who are struggling to make a living to contact the department for help instead of participating in illegal activities such as drug smuggling.
“There are alternatives and being a drug mule does not pay. If you are really struggling, come forward to Social Development. We have a lot of poverty alleviation interventions, which can … assist you to go to school and have your own career and get a job for yourself,” said the Deputy Director-General responsible for Welfare Services, Connie Nxumalo.
Nxumalo made this plea at OR Tambo International Airport, where the department was welcoming a three-year-old boy repatriated from Mozambique. The mother of the child was arrested in 2011 for a drug trafficking related crime. She was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
The child was born during his mother’s imprisonment and has been cared for by his mother in prison. He returned to South Africa on Wednesday afternoon, following his mother’s request to have him placed with an uncle and aunt, who live in the Free State.
A social worker and communication official from the department travelled to Maputo on 12 April to meet with the mother and child and to escort the child back to South Africa.
Nxumalo said the boy’s repatriation is part of child protection interventions and the department usually brings back children born to South Africans who are held in prisons outside the country.
She said the department is seeing an increase in the number of children who have to be repatriated. Between 2005 and 2015, the department has repatriated 18 children.
Nxumalo said arrangements have been made for the social worker, responsible for the case, together with the prospective foster parents, to meet the child upon his arrival in the Free State.
“There’s an allocated social worker who will go with the foster parents to ensure that the necessary support is given to both foster parents and the child because the child is not familiar with the environment. We need to work hard with the family to make sure that the child adjusts well within the family.
“The prospective foster parents are looking forward to meeting the child and indicated that they are prepared to become his foster parents while his mother is unable to fulfil this role,” said Nxumalo. – SAnews.gov.za