Critical social services have been compromised in at least three North West service points, with cases piling up and needy children not helped as social development staff refuse to enter “dangerous” offices for months.
This situation, which involves social workers and probation officers, has resulted in the delay in the finalisation of court cases involving child rape victims and those where children commit crimes.
Also affected is the general public, as home-based care organisations are without social workers to call on when community care workers are confronted with cases that need urgent intervention.
These cases include destitute families, the elderly, and children in need of urgent social help, such as access to healthcare, foster care and social grants.
In the Rustenburg service point alone, the majority of its 158 social welfare and community development workers have not reported for duty for over a year now. They argue that their offices are a health hazard and have no work equipment.
A staff member in Rustenburg, who did not want to be named, said they were not restricting anyone to provide services but that no one could do that without computers to compile reports for courts and stationery to capture people’s personal details.
“Instead of ensuring conducive working conditions to properly serve the public, we’re being intimidated and threatened for pointing out our terrible working conditions,” he said.
In the Moses Kotane service point, workers have been on a go-slow for more than eight months.
Workers in the Moretele service point, in Makapanstad, have been on a go-slow for six months.
All these service points share similar grievances.
Moretele community leader Shangy Mbekwa said he has been receiving calls from schools complaining about lack of access to social workers.
“I am pleading with the department to sort out the issues that workers complain about because they render a critical service to poor communities,” he said.
Petrus Siko of the North West department of social development didn’t respond to questions, despite him requesting more time to do so.