Child saved from hellhouse

Gareth Wilson

A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy and four starving animals were removed from a stinking hell- hole in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

The house in Lucerne Avenue, Forest Hill, reeked from animal faeces and vomit on the floors and piles of half-eaten food and unwashed clothes strewn everywhere in the flea-riddled rooms.

The kitchen counters were covered with unwashed pots and food-encrusted crockery, which were also scattered throughout the three-bedroomed house.

The unbearable stench sent police dashing outside for fresh air every few minutes.

“This house is worse than a pigsty,” they said.

One policeman said he had never seen such “disgusting living conditions” in his 25 years with the police service.

Rubbish was strewn inside and outside the house, and three cats and a dog were locked inside. Flies buzzed around inside.

The house was raided after police were tipped off about the “inhumane” conditions in which the family of three were living.

The parents have not been identified – to protect the little boy.

The child’s father, aged 49, said he had been told by his own mother never to clean the house.

“No one believes me, but she said I cannot clean the house,” he said, before wandering off down the road muttering to himself.

One policeman at the house gave the child’s mother money to buy him a chocolate to soothe him.

“He was screaming and crying. He said he wanted a chocolate,” the policeman said.

“If you look at the child’s condition, it is obvious he has not eaten a proper meal in a while.

“It is definitely in the interests of the child to be placed in a house of safety.”

The police officers who took part in the raid were all sent home later to change their uniforms, which were crawling with fleas from the house.

One neighbour sat outside his house, cheering police as they removed the boy and the animals.

Police spokesman Captain Stanley Jarvis, who was also at the house, said that due to the inhumane living conditions, police were investigating possible charges of child abuse.

“We have alerted all the relevant role-players, including social workers, animal welfare members and the health and safety directorate.

“In all my years in the police, I have never seen a house look as filthy and disgusting as this,” he said.

“This house should be condemned and, at the very least, is a clear health and fire hazard.

“There is no way any human being can live under such conditions.

“The child has been removed and placed in the temporary custody of a neighbour for the night.

“Social welfare have been informed and will be able to come and investigate in the morning.”

Jarvis said a joint investigation by all the role-players would decide the parents’ fate.

“The parents have not been arrested but we have issued them with a warning to not make contact with the child until social welfare has been brought in to assist.”

A neighbour, who refused to give her name, volunteered to look after the child for the night.

“They have been living like this for years,” the upset woman said.

“I give them bits and pieces of food every night, but I am not sure if they eat it or give it to the animals.

“I understand that something must be done, but it is very sad that the situation turned out like this.”

Animal Anti-Cruelty League investigator Beverly Rademeyer said the cats were malnourished and dehydrated while the dog looked “slightly better”.

“In all my years, I have never seen such a sight.

“It goes down as the worst house I have had to rescue animals from,” she said.

“It is absolutely horrific. The owners actually requested that the animals be taken when we arrived,” Rademeyer said.

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