The family of a 10-month-old boy who died in mysterious circumstances at a Hangberg crèche are struggling to come to terms with his death.
Isreal Williams died at the crèche, located at the top of a flight of stairs off Salamander Road, on Monday July 5. The facility is not registered with the provincial Department of Social Development but has been open for some five years.
The double-storey building is constructed of wood and metal, and in the front yard a piece of sheet metal has been placed in a tree. While both the department and police are investigating, there has been no official statement on the cause of Isreal’s death.
However, according to the infant’s cousin Wade Douglas, who lives in the flat he shared with his parents Clint and Tersia Williams, there are suspicions that Isreal had fallen and had later died.
“On Monday morning Clint had a feeling that Isreal should not go to the crèche, but Tersia said they were paying money for him to go there, so they dropped him off in the morning. Israel had been going there for three months,” she said.
“At the time, the owner and her assistant were there. The family understands that when it was time for the children to have their sleep in the afternoon, Isreal fell on his head. Afterwards he was crying the whole time, and the assistant gave him his bottle.
“He then fell asleep, but he never woke up.”
Paramedics were called, but the baby was declared dead on their arrival, she said.
“Isreal was such a healthy and happy child. There was nothing wrong with him.” She said his death had been articularly hard on his father, who spent a lot of time with his son while the boy’s mother was at work. The Williamses also have a 10-year-old daughter.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the Hangberg community since Isreal’s death, and we want to thank everyone for their assistance,” Ms Douglas said.
The creche’s owner, Christene Andrews, did not wish to comment.
Social Development spokesperson Sihle Ngobese said the facility was unregistered, as it had been working on attaining its registration and complying to the “thorough and rigorous provisions of the Children’s Act of 2005, with reference to norms and standards”.
“The department sent out a team last week from our Metro South regional office and Fish Hoek local office to investigate the matter.
“The investigation into the causes of the death are being led by the South African Police Services and we will give the police any assistance required on their investigation into the causes of this incident.”
Saying the department would like to extend its condolences to the family, he added the department visited the creche in November last year, while health officials from the City of Cape Town also inspected the facility.
“We continue to try to assist facilities such as this one to attain registration status, however, the scale of the challenge remains immense. Nonetheless, the department has put in place systems that seek to assist ECD centres to progressively meet the requirements of the act.”
Hout Bay police spokesperson Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch said an inquest docket had been opened and would be investigated.
“The cause of death has not been confirmed, an autopsy will be done,” she said.