Pubdate: Mon, 01 Mar 2010
Source: Pretoria News, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2010 The Pretoria News
Author: Zelda Venter
Note: Sandra and Bob are not their real names.


The mother whose two children were removed from her  following claims
that they were neglected and exposed  to "ganja" (dagga) as their
parents belonged to a  nomadic cult, desperately wants them back.

The young mother, only identified as *Sandra to protect  the children,
spoke for the first time on Sunday after  all her children were taken
away by family members  following interim court orders.

She first had her son, who is about to turn six,  removed from her
care some years ago by her mother.  This, Sandra said, was in spite of
the family advocate  recommending that the child should remain with

She also underwent a drug test following allegations  that she used
dagga and the test results proved that  she was "clean".

Her relatives obtained another court order in January  to have her
youngest children, a one-year-old boy and a  girl who is turning three
next month, removed from her  care.

Both are interim orders and Sandra said she would fight  for her
children, as she loved them very much.

A fourth child died in hospital some years ago after he  fell

She rejected claims that she fled with the children  after the recent
court order. "I did not know about the  order until police came
knocking on my door," she said.

Lawyers acting for the family at the time said the  authorities were
searching for the children and parents  and eventually found them on a
farm in Port Alfred  following tip-offs from members of the community.

The mother said claims by the family that she and the  father of her
children (who is 20 years older than her)  were part of a cult were
simply not true.

The children's father, identified as *Bob, is a  Rastafarian and the
family did live a simple life on a  farm but the children were always
well cared for and  they were her main priority.

Sandra told the Pretoria News o Sunday that she was  devastated when
her first son was removed from her  care, although she proved to the
authorities that she  was a good mother.

She was equally devastated when her last two children  were removed
from her care last month.

"It is extremely traumatic for me. I feel frustrated  and as if my
hands are tied.

"How can my children be taken away without anyone  investigating the
circumstances in which they were  living?" she asked.

Sandra said her family took the facts on which they had  her first son
removed from her care, and used them  (with a few adjustments) in
their bid to take her other  two children away as well.

Sandra has in the meantime left the father of her  children and she
wants nothing more to do with him.

She said while he had been "extremely abusive" towards  her, he was
always a good father to the children and  they adored him.

"I was interested in the Rasta culture, but I did not  become involved
in any cult. I was 21 when I became  involved with Bob. He spoke about
love and peace and  equality and all the good things of being a
Rastafarian," said Sandra.

It soon became evident that he did not respect women  and she
eventually left him.

But she said her children always had a roof over their  heads and they
did not live in the bush, as had been  claimed.

While living on the farm they made a living with her  making dream
catchers and other artworks.

Bob made furniture and toys and later obtained a  building job. All in
all, she said, they always made  ends meet.

Sandra said she never saw eye to eye with her family,  whom she
claimed were extremely conservative and did  not give their blessing
to her life in which she  embraced the Rasta culture.

She is extremely angry about the "false" allegations  made that her
children were dirty, hungry and  neglected.

She is even more upset about claims that her son Enoch  died before he
was a year old due to neglect.

Sandra said they did everything to prevent his death,  but following a
serious stint of diarrhoea, he  eventually died in hospital.

Claims that she and Bob were witnessed blowing dagga  fumes through a
pipe into the faces of the children  were untrue, she said.

"It this was so, why did my family not call the  police?" Sandra said
she missed her children bitterly  and she is set on fighting to get
them back.

*Sandra and Bob are not their real names. 
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