A scandal that resulted in a 16-year-old girl falling pregnant has rocked a children’s home in the Matobo District.
The girl, who cannot be named for ethical reasons, has been a resident at Ethandweni Children’s Home for three years.She was brought into the institution that looks after abused and orphaned children by social welfare workers after being ra-ped by a gold panner in 2013 while staying with her maternal grandmother in Matobo District.
The gold panner is serving a lengthy prison sentence at Khami Maximum Prison for the crime.
Last year it was discovered that the minor was pregnant and is due to give birth next month. An anonymous letter dropped in a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) suggestion box at a local police station claimed that the Ethandweni Children’s Home director Lucien Oosthuizen was responsible for the pregnancy.
Oosthuizen is well aware of the allegations, but vehemently denies them.
“A lot of things have been said about this institution, that I’m responsible for the pregnancy and alleged sxual relations among our staff members but such talk will not deter us from our core business which is taking good care of these children.
“When we discovered that the girl was pregnant I went to the police, something I would do if anything of that nature happens and aninvestigation was launched. I’m not responsible for the girl’s pregnancy as alleged by some people in WhatsApp group messages.
“Stories will always come and go,” said Oosthuizen when this publication visited the children’s home.
According to Oosthuizen, when social welfare workers interrogated the girl about the pregnancy, she claimed that a 16-year-old boy who also stays at Ethandweni Children’s Home was responsible for it.
The home looks after 37 children.“This is the first pregnancy case in this home in 19 years
and the girl has since been moved to an institution in Bulawayo, which is better equipped in dealing with pregnant teenagers,” he said.
Asked how the two minors managed to breach security mechanisms at the home and engage in sexual activity Oosthuizen said: “Children break rules all the time and it’s unfortunate it resulted in a pregnancy. The boy who is responsible is still with us. At the end of the day children’s lives must not be destroyed regardless of the false stories that people might spread about us out there”.
A community member who requested anonymity, however, claimed Oosthuizen was being economical with the truth.
“The child’s relatives only discovered she was pregnant after reading about it on a WhatsApp group chat, but Oosthuizen never bothered to officially inform them about the pregnancy. Now they have just discovered the child has been moved to another children’s home in Bulawayo, but there is no official communication from Ethandweni Children’s Home,” said the community member.
Oosthuizen said as far as he knew the pregnant teen’s only close relative made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with the girl when she first moved into Ethandweni Children’s Home.
“From the moment the girl moved into this home she became a child of the State which means the decision to move her to another home was made in conjunction with officials from the Department of Social Welfare,” he said.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele confirmed that they received a case of sxual abuse at Ethandweni Childrens’ Home and investigations were still underway.
“Investigations are still underway to ascertain who is responsible for the girl’s pregnancy and one of the boys in the institution has also been pinpointed,” said Insp Ndebele.