High court rules in favour of child a with special needs.

The Free State departments of education, health and social development were left with an egg on the face after the high court ordered them to ensure the rights to education of a child with special needs.

The child, who can only be referred to as R because she is a minor, has been diagnosed with foetal alcohol syndrome and has since been found to be addicted to snuff . She also has cognitive impairments, behavioural disorder and epilepsy.

An initial court order obtained by the Centre for Child Law (CFCL) in 2018 demanding R be placed in a child and youth care centre and be provided with access to education was not fully met.

The Bloemfontein High Court this week ruled that R be placed in a temporary place of safety within two weeks of the court order and be placed in a childcare centre where her addiction and special needs can be att ended to. The court further ordered that R be granted access to the special school identifi ed to cater for her educational needs.

“Given her tumultuous living conditions, she has been exposed to violence at the household level and sexually violated. At 12 years, she has not been to school catering for her needs. She was for a brief period at the mainstream primary school and has since been removed,” the judgment reads.

“There is no cogent reason advanced why the programme for rehabilitating [R] can’t be run at the same time that she will be att ending school. The thinking that the [child] can be only admitted once all impediments have been dealt with is susceptible to perpetuating exclusivity.”

The CFCL’s lawyer, Anjuli Maistry, said it is disappointing that it took so many years to get R the care and support that she is entitled to.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that we have had to go to such lengths to compel duty bearers to provide care and education to an evidently vulnerable child. We will continue to fight to advance the rights of other children with disabilities,” Maistry said. The Free State government did not respond to questions


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