News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday September 15th 2019

ANC Youth League to fight closure of juvenile centre

Juveniles at Ottery Youth Care and Training Centre rehearse for theatre play Shakespeare Unplugged. The centre's 'closure' is facing fierce opposition.Photos: Yasser Booley/WCN


The Western Cape ANC Youth League (ANCYL) today vowed to oppose what they believe is the proposed closure of the Ottery Youth Care and Training Centre.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) however, said that the facility will not be closed, but rather transferred to the Department of Social Development (DSD).

The centre currently teaches skills like carpentry and panel-beating, along with sports and recreational activities, to 62 youth who have fallen foul of the law. It has not been allowed to enrol any new students since the beginning of the year.

In a statement, the ANCYL said: “In a province plagued by drug abuse, gangs, violent crime and unemployment… it is shocking that the Western Cape government leaves our vulnerable youth in a vacuum with no clear alternative or smooth transition.

“These youth are set to be dislodged from an educationally sound and protected environment and dumped into a punitive environment under the provincial department of social development.”

The ANCYL’s statement echoes the sentiments of the chairperson of the centre’s governing board, Azeem Badrodien. Badrodien said that although he believed the juveniles would be transferred to another institution owned by the provincial DSD, the DSD did not have the capacity to manage the centre. He stated that transferring the youth would be traumatic for them, as the freedoms they currently enjoyed would be curtailed.

Badrodien said they were prepared to go to court to prevent the closure, arguing that the DSD lacked capacity to rehabilitate the youngsters.

WCED said the transfer of management was in line with the Children’s Care Act, while the DSD referred queries on the matter to WCED.

The ANCYL further accused Premier Helen Zille and Education MEC Donald Grant of failing to take the “centre, the community, the parents and the learners into their confidence by keeping them in the dark.

“As they (Zille and Grant) did with the arbitrary closure of poor black schools which is now under review in the Western Cape High Court, the DA is proving to the vulnerable youth of the Western Cape that they are an uncaring government.”

WCED director of communications Paddy Attwell said today that the “centre did not accept more young people at the beginning of the year while the future of the site is being decoded”.

He said the future of the centre would depend on consultations with labour organisations and relevant departments, while asserting that all decisions made “will be based on the best interest of the young people concerned”. –Francis Hweshe

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