Hard days for Vosloorus so­cial work­ers

Stressed staff work­ing in bro­ken-down of­fices

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MASABATA MKWANANZI

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.

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