Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Someone was to blame for Jonathan Kaptein's suicide - and got away with it.

The funeral of Jonathan Kaptein   
Someone is to blame for boy’s suicide, says town’s heroine
Abused lad taken from her loving home
By Helga van Staaden and Lauren Cohen (22/02/2015)

The social welfare system failed a 14-year-old-boy who committed suicide at a place of safety earlier this month, says a community worker who cared for him for months before he died.   Dianne lang was devastated to hear about the death two weeks ago of her former charge, Jonathan Kaptein, at the Erica Place of Safety.
Lang recently returned from Johannesburg after receiving an award sponsored by the women’s magazine FairLady and cosmetics giant Clarins for her community work in Middelburg, where she looks after more than 60 street children.
She said social workers did not always act in the interest of children, but instead “shuffled paper” trying to find the easiest solution to the problem.
“Somebody must be held accountable for Jonathan’s death.  There needs to be an inquiry, ”said Lang.
Jonathan was already dead when staff members found him with a shoe lace around his neck at 7.15pm on February 10.  He had absconded from the facility the previous night.
It is alleged that a group of Jonathan’s peers forced him to take the rap for a stash of dagga seized at the home.  Before his death Jonathan used the back of a spoon to carve into cement a note reading “The dagga is not mine”.
It is alleged that Jonathan that alleged that a group of Jonathan’s peeers forced him to take the rap for a stash of dagga seized at the home.  Before his death Jonathan used the back of a spoon to carve into cement a note reading “The dagga is not mine.”
It is alleged that Jonathan was constantly bullied by older boys, who tried to force him to take the rap for the dagga.  After the inscription was photographed by the police, it was scraped off in an attempt to “wipe the writing off the wall”.
Jonathan, and his best friend, Lionel Cox, 15 had been in Lang’s care since December 2003 until social workers removed them in March last year and placed them at the Erica Place of Safety.
At the time social workers alleged that the boys were sexually molested by an employee at lan’gs facility, a claim Lang denies.  A criminal case was opened but no charges were ever pursued against the employee. 
Lang said she found it strange that only the two boys were taken from her and none of the other children. She did not believe Jonathan committed suicide because of drugs.  She said shortly after the boys were placed at Erica, they were tattooed against their will by other boys.   They also complained of sexual advances.  In letters the boys told her how unhappy they were at the facility.
Lang said identifying Jonathan’s body was “horrendous”.  “I am sad but I remember Jonathan as the life and soul of the party.  When he walked into a room, the whole place lit up.  He used to fill the room with energy.  He was such a loveable boy” said Lang.
Lang said she was tired of fighting on her own and needed people to help.
“I am sad.  Being angry is a waste of time.  I am sad because of the potential we lost.  As difficult as it is, I will have to find a way to do it”, she said.
Social development spokesman Gcobani Maxwana yesterday said the department had received a report from Erica Place of Safety.  It has been forwarded to the department’s superintendent general.
“We need to get all the facts together and we cannot make our own conclusion.” Said Maswana.
M-Net’s actuality programme Carte Blanche broadcast Lang’s story last week after she received the Clarins/FairLady award for her work to improve the lives of abused and abandoned children in the impoverished Karoo town.
The prize rewards women working to help and heal South Africa’s neglected children.
Lang was chosen ahead of 120 nominees to receive the award and R150 000 prize money which will help her continue her work caring for more than 50 children who have been ill-treated or abandoned.
She sold her home in PE in 2002 and moved to Middelburg to provide children with food, shelter, education and love.
“I started with three children who had been living in a chicken coop and was soon faced with more and more cases of abuse and trauma which I could not neglect” she said.  “I never set out to get any award, I wish the children had been recognised and not me”.

Read more about her work by purchasing “Saving Mandela’s Children”, which is available on Kindle, Amazon and for South African’s from  

To save on packaging and posting, the book is also available from Dianne. (