Relocation does little good

2016-04-20 06:00
ONE of the disgruntled staff members of the Department of Social Development in an open apartment at another dilapidated building, the Tshireletsong Place of Safety in Bloemfontein. Photo: Mlungisi Louw

ONE of the disgruntled staff members of the Department of Social Development in an open apartment at another dilapidated building, the Tshireletsong Place of Safety in Bloemfontein. Photo: Mlungisi Louw

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MORE than 60 workers, including 35 social workers in Bloemfontein working for the Free State Department of Social Development, are lamenting the disgusting conditions at the Tshireletsong Place of Safety in Bloemfontein.

The department moved all employees to the building from the Thusanong Building in Dr Belcher Road in Bloemfontein. The relocation followed protests by employees, including social workers, over unhygienic conditions at the Thusanong Building.

They protested after spending weeks with no water at the deteriorating premises. The unavailability of water in the building forced them to relieve themselves in the nearby open field.

Speaking anonymously, frustrated employees and social workers say the move to another horror building has not changed their situation, as they were subjected to working and serving the public under unsatisfactory conditions. They told Express they found it difficult to assist patients at this building, which is also run-down.

“How do you counsel a rape victim in an open room full of people,” asked one of the social workers.

In March, frustrated employees and social workers picketed outside the dilapidated Thusanong Building following an inspection by the Department of Labour, which declared the building unsafe for occupation. The conditions at the building in question were found to be dire. The building was filthy with litter, with broken windows and worn-out ceilings.

During the protest, the spokesperson of the Department of Public Works, Bandile Ntombela, said all employees would be relocated to the Ratlou Complex, a government multiple facility in Thaba Nchu.

He said relocation was a temporary measure.

However, workers were shuffled to the Tshireletsong Place of Safety in Bloemfontein, another run-down building.

Last Wednesday (13/04), disgruntled social workers showed Express a room which they were forced to work in. The room only had a few chairs and one desk.

Social workers said they had been reporting for duty every morning at 07:30 and left at 10:00, because they could not conduct private counselling sessions with patients.

“We are literally crammed into one room which does not have furniture or office equipment,” said one of the social workers.

Two of the social workers are wheelchair-bound and struggle to gain access to the building. The building also has no proper toilets.

Mandy Xaba, spokesperson for the Free State’s Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSASA), said the Department of Public Works had failed to deliver on its promise to procure three containers to use as office space.

Xaba said several meetings with the Departments of Public Works and Social Development have not yielded any results.

Ntombela has failed to respond to a media inquiry regarding the matter.

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