The MEC for Social Development (DSD), Nonhlanhla Khoza, is concerned that social workers have still not yet been declared as essential workers even though they have also been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19.
She shared this with the provincial Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) at Tuesday’s meeting, saying social workers have been among the critical respondents to the plight of communities as they battle Covid-19.
Among the assistance that has been provided by DSD local offices are food parcels and blankets during the lockdown.
They have also continued with their work in responding to cases of abuse as well as where children have lost their parents. These included conducting home assessment visits.
“As we experience the resurgence chair [Maggie Govender] we can see that we need more social workers to go out and give that psycho-social support to families who have lost their loved ones. They need to give that psycho-social support to our NPOs [non-profit organisations] which take the vulnerable like the elderly people,” she said.
Khoza also told the committee that she had just received news that the department had lost yet another official to the virus. The acting director for uThukela District, Jabu Madlabane, died after spending two weeks in hospital battling Covid-19 related complications.
She said the death of social workers also put a strain on their colleagues, who are left to shoulder the added responsibility.
Scopa members shared Khoza’s concerns about the non-declaration of social workers as essential. ANC MPL Zinhle Cele asked for the matter to be urgently looked into.
“As we know they deal with quite critical matters and in this time of Covid we know that the three most important departments are health, education and social development, how then can we not make social workers be essential workers?