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Tsolo Social Development offices treacherous for staff and public: DA

Oct 4, 2017
Tsolo Social Development offices treacherous for staff and public: DA

The Eastern Cape Department of Social Development (SocDev) is in potential breach of a number of laws in relation to health, safety and occupational health and the protection of the personal information of clients, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape said on Wednesday. 

On Friday last week, DA Shadow Minister for Social Development, Bridget Masango MP; Phesheya Kweciba constituency leader, Veliswa Mvenya MPL, and I  paid a visit to the Tsolo offices of the Department of Social Development," said Kobus Botha, the DA's Eastern Cape shadow MEC for Social Development. 

"We found that the officials, social workers and the public face the risk of injury every day due to the dilapidated condition of the structures.  This is an insult to their dignity.  

"We were informed that the park home-type office had not been maintained since its construction in 1998. This office accommodates some 25 staff members and provides social services to an average of 80 clients daily."

Botha said that they observed the following: 

  • Inadequate support structures, for example, damaged stairs;
  • No handrails for persons with disabilities and the elderly;
  • No suitable access such as ramps for people confined to wheelchairs;
  • Gaping holes in the floors;
  • Dilapidated furniture and office equipment;
  • No lock-up cabinets resulting in large amounts of displaced files,  therefore breaching the Protection of Information Act (POPI), which stipulates protection of personal information of clients;
  • No serviced fire extinguishers;
  • Ablution facilities used as a kitchen and an archive storage; and
  • No proper shelter to protect people from inclement weather.

"Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi, must investigate whether her department is in breach of the Occupation Health and Safety Act (OHSA) 85 of 1993.  

"Her department has the responsibility to create and maintain a safe and healthy working environment for all citizens," he added.

"The MEC’s negligence to act in the best interest of SocDev staff members and the public is a clear indication of an MEC’s failure to comply with the provisions of the OHSA.  

"I have written to MEC Sihlwayi to request her to take corrective action at the Tsolo office urgently."

Botha said that the MEC must: 

  1. Ensure that a thorough hazard assessment is done in order to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act;
  2. Ensure that the office complies with the requirements of the POPI Act, as social development clients’ information are scattered all over the office;
  3. Ensure that the office complies with the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, part S.  The Tsolo-office is in gross violation of the Act, as people with disabilities (PWD) cannot safely access the building.  For my letter, click here

"It would be prudent for the MEC to extend assessments to SocDev offices in the rest of the province in regards to all three mentioned Acts in order to avert any potential civil claims resulting from non-compliance," he added.

"The DA believes that social spending should be focused on the disadvantaged and that such spending should improve the quality of life of individuals born into poverty. We also believe that citizens are capable of taking responsibility for their own destiny and should be viewed as partners, not subjects, in development."