Johannesburg - Nine people have been appointed by Social Services Minister Zola Skweyiya to investigate allegations of human rights violations at the Noupoort drug rehabilitation centre, his office said on Tuesday.
Spokesperson Mbulelo Musi said the team would probe the functioning of the Noupoort Christian Care Centre (NCCC), hopefully to end years of allegations of human rights abuses.
"The issue of rehabilitation of drug addicts has become even more urgent and critical priority in our endeavours as government," Musi said in a statement.
"This is even more important as we commemorate Youth Month in June, which includes marking the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking."
Skweyiya appointed the team after the Pretoria High Court ordered his department on May 24 to decide within a month whether to grant the NCCC permanent registration.
The high court further ordered the NCCC to provide departmental officials unrestricted access to conduct the inspection.
The NCCC has been at the centre of controversy for more than four years on allegations of gross human rights abuses. In one case Logan Klingenberg, 16, was found dead in a so-called "punishment cell" at the barracks of the centre in 2001.
Skweyiya said the controversy relating to the functioning of the NCCC had been dragging on for too long and "in the best interest of the members of the public, I want to ensure that they are brought to finality soonest".
Government officials on the team are Conny Nxumalo, Cynthia Isaacs, Herman Moeketsi and Pierre Viviers.
Drug experts Elize Smith and Carol du Toit, Mamiki Nkuna of the SA Human Rights Commission and David Bayever from the Central Drug Authority also form part of the team.
Zeni Thumbadoo, a director at the National Association of Child Care Workers, would also be among the group, Musi said.
"We hope the expert delegation will conduct a thorough assessment of the functioning of the centre and advise the minister and the department within the next two weeks," said Vusi Madonsela, the director-general at the department.
Edited by Elmarie Jack
See related: Flogging for God.
See Noupoort managers lament 'sudden closure' , South African Press Association, June 6, 2004
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