The provincial Department of Social Development has been cleared of wrongdoing for circumstances leading to the death of five-month-old Ava Barley at a Pinelands early childhood development (ECD) centre.

A Cape Times report says baby Ava died of asphyxiation in 2010 when she rolled off the bed and was wedged between it and a bedside pedestal at Aunty Dawn’s ECD in Pinelands.

Her parents filed a claim against centre owner and principal Dawn Moore and the department for damages.

The Western Cape High Court had found in their favour, but the department appealed against the ruling.

The SCA has now exonerated the department, saying:While the regulatory responsibilities of the province must be accepted, this does not necessarily translate into a legal duty to prevent harm to either Ava or to her parents.’

During the appeal, the province acknowledged the protection of children as a priority, but denied that it carried the primary responsibility of ensuring the safety of children in the day-to-day operation of privately run facilities.

Full Cape Times report (subscription needed)