Today In Fact, 22 July

In 1996 I managed the Streetwise branch in Pretoria. We worked intensively with streetchildren. Here is a peculiar case I dealt with back then.

Dumisani was never a regular at our Day Care Centre. One day we received a call from William Mpembe of the Sunnyside Police saying that Joe Mkhize had brought Dumisani in and that Dumisani wanted to go home to Standerton.

We spoke with Dumisani and enquired why he was in Pretoria in the first place. It transpired that he had run away from Jabulani Place of Safety some months ago. I contacted Jabulani and spoke with a social worker there. The social worker confirmed that Dumisani was placed at Jabulani and had run away. I was referred to the Welfare Officer at Standerton.

The welfare officer in Standerton sent me the court papers concerning Dumisani. The boy had at the age of 14 (some two years prior) murdered his two year old niece. He had stamped on her, buried her alive and poked out her eyes with burning sticks while his parents were away.

He had been sentenced to spend 7 years in custody starting at the Ogies Juvenile Detention Centre but had run away from Jabulani before the sentence was passed.

Jabulani was full and so we kept him at the Streetwise Place of Safety in Mabopane as an interim measure while the police organized to fetch and take him to Ogies.

When the police finally came to fetch Dumisani, they neglected to lock the back of their van and he escaped from their custody, returned to the Place of Safety and used his notoriety as a murderer to bully the other children who were living with him. The police came again and this time Dumisani refused to go with them and so they left without him. A

fter about a fortnight, on this day in 1996, I could bear it no longer and got-up early. I drove to the Streetwise Place of Safety where Dumisani was staying and at about 5AM, woke him up, put him in my vehicle and drove him to the 130 kilometers to the Ogies Place of Safety.

During the journey I explained in detail what his actions in killing his niece meant. I explained the punishment he would have to undergo and the irrevocable nature of his murder. At Ogies I put him into the juvenile cells personally and warned him not to return to Pretoria again. Happy Mary Magdalene Day.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (

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