Ex-employee tried to blackmail Carletonville crèche principal: MEC

The Ninnies Neurons Nursery School has been operating illegally since 2016.

JOHANNESBURG - Officials at a Carletonville nursery school have been widely criticised for failing to report incidents of child abuse.

On Thursday, the Gauteng Social Development Department closed the Ninnies Neurons Crèche after a video emerged of a woman assaulting children at the facility.

While South Africans are demanding justice, the school's principal is claiming she was being threatened and blackmailed by a former employee.

That's why she didn't report the abuse.

READ: Carletonville crèche closed after abuse

MEC of Social Development Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said she was very disturbed after receiving the video clip of the abuse.

"I decided to go to Carletonville together with social workers and the police," said Mayathula-Khoza.

"We spoke to the principal who said she wasn't aware of abuse up until two weeks ago when a caregiver shared the video with her."

Mayathula-Khoza said the principal and caregiver no longer had a good working relationship and she blocked the phone number.

"The caregiver called the principal and told her she has a video of child abuse and if she doesn't give her money, she'll expose it.

READ: Police confirm crèche teacher's arrest for abuse

"The principal reported the matter to police and the second careworker was arrested."

Civil rights group Women and Men Against Child Abuse says failure to report child abuse is a criminal offence.

"Our children are falling victims at the hands of the very people who are supposed to care for them," said Vincentia Dlamini.

"I think if you do have an institution and you have employed somebody and you are made aware somebody has committed such a despicable act...  you have a legal obligation to report child abuse.

"The Children's Act is very clear that failure to report such cases is a criminal offense."

READ: Social Development MEC to visit Carletonville crèche after abuse

Dlamini said all adults carry a responsibility to report incidents of child abuse.

"We as an organisation are going to push for prosecution of wrongdoers and prosecution of people who know about abuse and do nothing about it."

Meanwhile, a clinical psychologist says abuse inflicted on children has long term implications.

Cathy Angus was speaking after the shocking video emerged.

She says there are signs that parents could look out for to see if their children are being abused.

"Firstly children can become very withdrawn and quieter, even being afraid to report this to a parent because maybe they did something wrong.

"You would look for behavioural signs in terms of being quieter, crying for often or perhaps having nightmares.

"The signs will be very clear," said Angus.

The woman in the video has appeared in court on 28 March on a charge of assaulting a minor.

She's been released on bail and will appear again on 7 May.

Civil rights group Women and Men Against Child Abuse says failure to report child abuse is a criminal offence.

The Gauteng Department of Social Development says it has closed a creche in Carletonville.