A Worcester mother found herself in the dock on two counts of child abuse on Thursday after she “disciplined” two teenage girls for creating “lust-inducing” Facebook pages.
The woman, a 52-year-old who lives with her biological daughter and 11 foster children, allegedly chained up her 16-year-old foster daughter for three days. The second child-abuse charge related to daily “hidings” the woman allegedly inflicted on her 15-year-old biological daughter.
She meted out the punishments after the teenagers created what the woman called “fake” Facebook pages containing a plethora of photos of themselves in an apparent attempt to attract attention from boys.
According to a Facebook rant by the mother, a fervent Zionist judging by her public posts, the children’s accounts attracted “5,000 mostly boys friends they mostly don’t know from around the world”.
Western Cape social development MEC Albert Fritz said the department sent a supervisor and three experienced social workers to help the children, who are now in a place of safety.
“On Saturday 26 January 2019, SAPS informed the after-hours protocol social worker that there were 12 children in the Scherpenheuwel area who needed assistance,” said Fritz in a statement.
“The children were between the ages of two and 16. They were removed from the premises and taken to a place of safety. Allegations of maltreatment and abuse were made.”
A statement by the Worcester police’s family violence, child protection and sexual offences (FCS) unit said the 16-year-old was “cuffed with a chain around the neck as a punishment for three days”.
A statement added: “It was also discovered that a 15-year-old biological child of the suspect has been beaten on a daily basis.”
The mother vented her feelings on Facebook two days after the children were removed. She said it was the children, their friends who knew about the girls’ Facebook pages and the father of the 16-year-old, who called the police, whose hearts needed changing.
She said she was shocked to discover the profiles and see that a “school secretary, a father and a cousin” were among those listed as the teenagers’ friends.
If the Facebook pages were designed to attract attention, they worked. The eldest girl’s posts regularly achieved hundreds of likes and both teenagers received comments and likes from much older men around the country and beyond.
Some asked for the opportunity to chat through their Facebook inboxes.
The woman accused the 16-year-old of “running dangerously … after a disrespectful boy” and claimed that all the children who were taken away had been influenced by the two girls’ “rebellious streak”.
She added: “And because of a very temporary and visual discipline measure to keep [the 16-year-old] from running dangerously even at night after a disrespectful boy, and an accompanying hiding, the police took ALL the children away.”