Ricochet News

'Social services in Port Alfred and Alexandria affected by severe shortage of vehicles'

Jun 25, 2018
'Social services in Port Alfred and Alexandria affected by severe shortage of vehicles'

Social services, such as placement of children in foster care, home visits and the monitoring and evaluation of social grant recipients are grinding to a halt in Port Alfred and Alexandria due to a severe lack of resources, including vehicles, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Monday. 

"There are only two vehicles for over 20 social workers, both of which are out of operation, one for almost a year," said Kobus Botha (MPL), DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Social Development. 

"The DA believes that social workers are the face of the Department of Social Development (DSD) in our communities.

"During an oversight inspection of the DSD service offices in the two towns last week, I found that the 20-odd social workers cannot perform their duties due to a lack of vehicles. The vehicle from the Alexandria office is not functional and the other, from the Port Alfred office, was taken for minor body repairs in East London almost a year ago and not returned."

Botha said that instead of helping and assisting people dealing with social ills and servicing the needs of the poor and most vulnerable of society, the frustrated office managers and social workers are sitting around doing minor administrative tasks when they should be spending the majority of their time being visible in communities.

"The social workers from these two towns carry a caseload of between 70 and 120 per month. These cases range from dealing with the placement of children in foster care, investigating the misuse of foster and child grants, substance abuse and family violence," he described.

"I also found that in both towns, the DSD offices are located a considerable distance from the communities."

Botha said that in Alexandria, there is limited signage indicating the direction to the service office and the signage at the office is small and not clearly visible to the public.

"In this office, there are 10 social workers and currently no vehicle. Also, the safes that store the personal information of community members are damaged and the doors cannot lock," he said.

"This is in contradiction to the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPI) that makes reference to how and where your information is stored – 'there must be adequate measures and controls in place to safeguard your information to protect it from theft, or being compromised'."

Botha said that in Port Alfred, the local social development service office is situated in an industrial area on the outskirts of the town.

"Here too, there is currently no vehicle for the social workers to use in order to perform their duties and support the community members. 

"My interaction with communities revealed general dissatisfaction with the level of social services rendered as the public highlighted that social workers were not visible, present and accessible in the communities. Much-needed services of the Department of Social Development are not accessible to poor, poverty-stricken members of the public," he added.

"I have written a letter to the MEC for Social Development, Dr Pumza Dyantyi, to request her urgent intervention in order to allocate adequate vehicles to the social workers in these communities in order for the much-needed services to reach the people."