Hard days for Vosloorus social workers
Stressed staff working in broken-down offices
SOCIAL workers at the Social Development offices in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, are operating under appalling conditions, many of them say.
This was discovered yesterday when the DA conducted a visit to the offices and found collapsed ceilings, a leaking roof and cracked walls. In addition, many toilets were not working, there were doors without proper locks, and much of the paint in the building was peeling.
The DA contingent was accompanied by The Star’s reporter.
Justus de Goede, DA Gauteng spokesperson for Social Development, said he was shocked to see the desperate state of the offices.
He said the building was in a shocking condition and poses a danger to the public and the officials, especially as some parts of the roof have collapsed.
Yesterday, some of the staff raised concerns about the building, saying there were times when there was no water or electricity.
In some of the rooms, the electrical plugs were broken and lights not working.
It was also discovered that three social workers share one office and one telephone, meaning there is often no confidentiality for their clients, whose problems are mostly discussed in front of other people.
The staff have complained, saying they often have to squeeze in seven clients in one session or they have to ask clients to wait outside due to there being no proper consultation rooms. One of these rooms is used as an office by the two social workers. The offices have a staff complement of 20 but only three cars.
One employee said she had been injured by a broken chair which she had previously reported – especially as she had had a spinal fusion – but about which nothing was ever done. Eventually the chair broke again and she fell and was injured.
She had strained her back and fractured her hip. She had to have a hip replacement surgery and spent two months in hospital.
She had to use a wheelchair because she couldn’t walk. She said she was never compensated for her injuries.
She added that after she came back to work, she was told that no “light duties” were provided for social workers.
She said she didn’t know what to do because she was having trouble moving from point A to B.
“I used to come to work, eat my lunch and go home,” she said.
She said that she tried numerous times to speak to her head of department so that she could get something to do and so that she could feel like a social worker again.
Some community members said they were happy about the services they received from the office, but were concerned about their safety and the state of the building.
De Goede said: “There is a dire shortage of resources, no maintenance and the infrastructure is crumbling.”
Gauteng Social Development’s Mbangwa Xaba said that he was very disappointed at the DA’s behaviour.
The party had conducted an oversight visit at a government facility and invited the media but not the government.
“We find it disturbing that the DA would invite the media and not share the same courtesy to us,” he said.
Xaba said his department would like an opportunity to verify the condition of the building before commenting further.