Security guards and the staff at the Vosloorus Social Development premises refused to facilitate a follow-up oversight visit to the facility yesterday by DA Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Justus de Goede.
Some of the staff members said that they were instructed not to talk to DA representatives and not to grant permission to conduct any inspection following the MEC’s visit to these offices on 3 August 2017.
The team was intimidated and told that if the oversight inspection proceeded, it would be doing it at “own risk”.
The purpose of the follow-up visit was to determine the improvements reported by the Gauteng Social Development MEC, Nandi Manyathula-Khoza in her reply to the DA’s written questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature with regards to the maintenance and renovation of these premises.
The DA’s first oversight visit to these offices was on 21 July 2017. We discovered that the building was old and dilapidated, the ceiling and roof had collapsed and the walls had cracked posing a danger to both the public and the officials.
There is also overcrowding in these offices with up to three social workers sharing one office. There is no provision for proper consultation rooms for the clients and social workers. There is also a dire shortage of resources and a clear lack of maintenance.
According to MEC Manyuthela-Khoza, the offices were not maintained due to the absence of a lease agreement between the Department and the Ekurhuleni municipality.
The alleged emergency maintenance undertaken included for the most part the replacement and repair of facilities in the toilets.
The MEC said the department was aware of the inadequate office accommodation at Vosloorus Service Point. Furthermore, the Department had requested the Ekurhuleni Municipality to designate the wing of the building for social workers’ offices.
One assumes reasonably that little has been done in these offices, as no inspection was allowed and what was stated in the replies by the MEC cannot be verified or otherwise.
The MEC appears clearly embarrassed by the state of these offices, hence the instruction to staff not to grant access to these premises.
The MEC is not respecting the role which Members of the Gauteng Provincial legislature play in terms of holding public officials accountable. The members of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature are elected public representatives and it is their role to conduct oversight visits at any public facilities. The DA will subsequently refer this matter to the Ethics Committee at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.