30 04 2008

Namibia: Disabled Child Tied to Tree

29 April 2008

Adam Hartman

The Namibian (Windhoek)

http://allafrica.com/stories/200804290797.html

A Swakopmund mother, who had tied her six-year-old son to a tree on and off for the past four years to keep him in check, was freed by the Police yesterday after being questioned briefly.

The evidently distraught mother said she was very shocked when the Police arrived at her home yesterday to ask her and her son to accompany them to the Police station.
 
She was assured that the Police just wanted to help, though. Eva Jacobs Edwards, a resident of the Mondesa township at Swakopmund, told the Police that she had resorted to this measure because the boy had been dangerously hyperactive since the age of two. “He was a danger to himself, and the only way I could have control over his movements was to tie him to a tree in our yard,” she said. “At least I knew that he would stay where I last saw him, and that he would not be able to get hold of anything dangerous.”

According to Police Inspector Daniel Langer, the mother would not be charged with child abuse or neglect, but would rather be helped to find a way to look after her son better. The little boy was in a healthy condition and appeared well cared for, he said.

Inspector Langer said consultations would be held with the local social services to see what could be done to assist the mother “in what seems like a very difficult situation”. “We’re not intending to take the child away from her; we just want to help,” Lange said. Edwards told The Namibian that her son often wandered off, leaving their yard and ending up in the street without realising what he was doing.

He would also do dangerous things, like eating anything he got hold of or playing with dangerous objects, she said. She said she had only tied him to the tree when it was not possible for her to be within eyesight all the time. He was never left out in the cold or allowed to go hungry, she added.

Edwards said she had requested help on several occasions from the local State hospital, inquiring about the possibility of putting the boy in an institution where he could be cared for, but she had never received any feedback.

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