False claims made in malicious Cape Argus articles
We fundamentally reject the malicious allegations in the Cape Argus page 3 story of today.
The tardy and error-ridden report – which is clearly maliciously written – tries to paint a picture of irresponsible use of public resources by the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD), while failing to substantiate these claims.
DSD received its fourth consecutive clean audit outcome, achieving most of its set targets and spending 99.8% of its budget. Thus efforts by the Argus to blight this achievement, come across as malicious.
In spite of the tough financial situation, the Department notched up significant and notable successes during the financial year;
- Efficiently managed the transfer of over R1-billion to over 2000 NGOs working with the Department,
- Doubling the number of social workers in the last 5 years,
- Expanded substance abuse services to 36 NGOs operating at 51 sites.
The article oddly and falsely ascribes a figure of R652-million as being spent on “venues and facilities for workshops and community meetings”. If true, that would mean this Department spent more on ‘venues and facilities’ than the entire yearly spend of the Department on the Children’s & Families budget (R615-million). This is clearly wrong, and begs the question of where the Argus got its facts from.
All monies spent by the Department went into service delivery.
We reject the nonsensical malicious attempt to impugn the R103 000 spending under “entertainment”. Broken-down over the year, this recorded R25 000 spent by managers to offer tea and occasionally refreshments when hosting meetings with clients, NGOs, and community meetings, and R75 000 used to host the Ministerial Youth Awards.
DSD is guided by and acts within the confines of legislation and the regulations set out in the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA).
The reported allegations of abuse are therefore unfounded, malicious and must be rejected with the contempt it deserves.
It is also concerning that this is the second malicious report about the Department in one week. In a front-page article earlier this week, the Argus manufactured facts about the state of child protection services in the Western Cape, and proceeded to cherry-pick and ignore written comment from the Department.
There is no “delay” in tackling child abuse, nor in responding to and dealing with cases of child protection. The national norm for social worker to population is 1 social worker for every 4500 people. In the Western Cape our ratio of social worker to population is 1 to 4600, so it is slightly above what it should be due to the limited resources we receive from national.
Regardless of this, the Department adheres to a strict procedure when dealing with child protection cases.
Whenever a suspected case of child abuse is reported, a social worker is empowered by the Children’s Act to respond immediately and conduct a risk assessment of the child.
If the child is found to be in immediate danger, the social worker may remove the child and place them into temporary safe care. The courts are approached for an order confirming the temporary safety placement. Children are never kept in dangerous situations.
Thereafter the social worker has 90 days to complete a full investigation into the child’s circumstances, and report back to the court on whether the child can be returned to the care of the family, or whether the child should be placed in longer term foster care.
This process was explained in detail to the Argus, and they still proceeded to make the distorted claim that children stay in dangerous circumstances for months, “waiting for intervention”. That is plainly wrong.
Agenda driven reporting by the Argus, and its sister publication, the Cape Times, will not deter us from building a capable state.
Spokesperson for Albert Fritz, Minister of Social Development
Western Cape Government
7th floor, 14 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town, 8000
Tel : (021) 483 9217
Cell : 076 083 6543
Email : Sihle.Ngobese@westerncape.gov.za