Durban – Three armed men, who entered the Ethelbert Child and Youth Care Centre, also known as the Ethelbert Children’s Home in Malvern, under the pretence of being painters, made off with the home’s petty cash and other valuables, on Friday morning.
According to communications officer of Malvern SAPS, W/O Radhika Marimuthu, a staff member, who was seated in her office, saw the three men at the gate, wearing blue overalls.
“She thought it was maintenance workers and opened the gate for them. The suspects entered and sat down and during the conversation, withdrew a firearm and forced the worker into a co-worker’s office. The suspects tied up both females with cable ties and took a cellphone and laptop from the office. The suspects also ransacked the safe, fleeing with the items,” added W/O Marimuthu.
The home’s director, Vanessa Theophilis, confirmed that the PRO, who is seven months pregnant, and administrative clerk, were rough-handled, tied up and forced to lie on the floor while the men, who pretended to be painters, helped themselves to the petty cash, laptop, handbag and cellphone, belonging to the two women.
“We beefed up our security after we had an incident where thieves stole the children’s bicycles after scaling the fence around our property. The property is well-secured, however, we always have people entering and exiting due to various reasons. It is not uncommon for service providers or walk-in donors to pitch up during working hours. Now that we experienced an incident of this nature, we are taking the necessary added precautions to ensure the safety of our children and staff,” she said.
Theophilis appealed to donors to not be deterred from making donations due to the increased measures put into place to curb crime-related incidents.
“There will be more questions asked and more stringent methods when ensuring the children’s safety. We appeal to residents and donors to be understanding as we are not asking questions out of disrespect, but out of concern for our safety. All donors and donations are valued by the home,” she added.
She also thanked Malvern SAPS and Chatsworth SAPS for their excellent response and also extended gratitude to a Metro Police officer, who was passing by and stopped to render assistance.
The Ethelbert Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC) is a registered non-profit and public benefits organisation (NPO and PBO) specialising in the full-time residential care of vulnerable, abandoned and abused children aged 18 months to 18-years-old.
In accordance with the Children’s Act, the courts place children in need of care and safety in child and youth care centres such as Ethelbert CYCC.
There are currently about 65 children residing in the home. “Members of the community are advised to display caution before opening doors to any service providers. Rather ask for identification and call the company to verify employment first,” urged W/O Marimuthu.
Station commander of Malvern SAPS, Lt Col Valarine Reddy, explained that vigilance should be always maintained.
Anyone with information regarding the robbery can contact Cpt Khambula, the branch commander of the detective branch, on 031 489-9624/ 9629 or Crime Stop on 08600-10111.