Child saved from cage shows growing crisis in Gauteng Social Development

Hendrika Kruger MPL

Spokesperson on Social Development

The horrific discovery of a young disabled boy in a cage in Sebokeng highlights the growing crisis in Gauteng Social Development. The heroic action by two Daily Sun journalists following community tip offs eventually led to the discovery of Kobie Small, who was found bewildered, naked, starved and dehydrated. Photos of the rescue are available here.

Kobie was held at a “place of safety”, an RDP house called Reyaphela Home for Orphans and Mentally and Physically Challenged Patients, for nearly a decade while the owner received the monthly grant of R1 260 using his ID.

The DA lauds the efforts of the journalists and community, and is very pleased to note that Kobie is recovering well in the Sebokeng Hospital.

The Department of Social Development must send social workers to conduct regular follow up visits to ensure the persons in need receive the social assistance they require.

The DA will request a full scale investigation into this incident by Gauteng Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book and any officials who failed in their duty are held accountable.

Sadly, Kobie is but one of hundreds of victims of social grant fraud, usually children, the elderly or people with disabilities.

The DA unequivocally supports social grants as society’s vulnerable citizens require immediate social protection provided by government. The right to social assistance for those who are unable to support themselves is enshrined in the South African Constitution, which the DA firmly believes in as the blueprint for building a better South Africa.

A DA government in Gauteng will address the crisis in Gauteng Social Development and introduce mechanisms to ensure those who require social assistance receive it as intended. This will include:

  • Filling the 1 300 vacant posts in the department, a vacancy rate of 20%, as a matter of urgency to ensure that key programmes are effectively implemented.
  • Introduce and strengthen community oversight mechanisms through which community members or teachers can apply for a review of beneficiary spending when there is suspicion that child grants are consistently not being used in the interests of a child. If there is clear evidence of grant abuse, arrangements can be made for a grant to be paid out to an alternative caretaker or social worker.
  • Prioritise the training of social workers by establishing two dedicated training colleges for social workers in Gauteng and offering generous bursaries for social work students and encouraging private sector investment in bursaries for social workers.
  • Make use of developmental conditionalities for child grants in which non-adherence to soft (non-punitive) conditions trigger intervention through an effective social welfare system. For example: if a grant beneficiary is not attending school or has not received the necessary immunisations, intervention must be initiated by a social worker, NGO or community organisation.
  • Maintain a zero-tolerance approach to grant-related fraud and corruption. The DA will run a clean, corruption-free department whose primary priority is the protection of vulnerable people in Gauteng.

Measures like these contained in the DA’s Green Paper on Social Protection (available here) will deliver a caring, clean government that not only locates and intervenes in horrific incidents like the one involving Kobie Small, but also prevents them before they happen.

The DA Gauteng vision for an effective social safety net also includes a zero-tolerance web that nets fraudsters and corrupt officials who attempt to profit from the vulnerability of others.