Minister of social development Lindiwe Zulu held a press conference on Monday, accompanied by Sassa CEO Busisiwe Memela-Khambula and NDA CEO Thamo Mzobe, at which she outlined the progress her department was making in the ongoing effort to combat the spread of Covid-19.
Zulu applauded the frontline staff for their “dedication and commitment in carrying out these essential services”.
“These essential services would be almost meaningless if citizens themselves also do not take responsibility and make sure that they keep their distance, make sure they wear their masks and make sure they follow the correct protocols.”
Zulu said the department of social development (DSD) would make more efficient use of social media to increase public awareness on services provide by the department, Sassa and the NDA.
She also said ammendments to the regulations governing extensions of lapsed disability grants had been put in place.
“We have published the regulations which give effect to the extension of disability grants from the date they were suspended until the end of October this year.
“This extension applies to all temporary disability grants that lapsed between February and March,” Zulu said.
The regulations also apply to care dependency and foster child care grants due to lapse during the lockdown period.
Zulu also acknowledged that the department had been short-sighted when considering regulations relating to the movement of children in SA.
“In our original plans, we only looked at people who had documents that were signed off by courts,” she said.
The minister said this had excluded many people.
“We have ammended the regulations regarding the movement of children between co-holders of parental responsibilities or caregivers as guided by Section 1 of the Children’s Act No. 38 of 2005.
“Under the new regulations, the movement of children between co-holders of parental responsibilities who live in different metropolitan areas, district municipalities or provinces is allowed, provided that necessary requirements are met,” said Zulu.
She said a number of parents had expressed frustration with the process, but she was adamant the measures were necessary to ensure the safety of children.
Ammendments have also been made to regulations regarding social development facilities and services.
“This has been a long time coming, because many people have been complaining that they have no access to Sassa offices,” Zulu said.
While she sympathised with people’s frustrations, Zulu said the department had to consider the health and safety of social development workers when making decisions.
“With regards to substance abuse centres and halfway houses, the newly ammended directions make provision for the release of service users from these facilities upon social workers’ reccommendations.”
The same applies to the release of GBV victims and children in child and youthcare facilities.
In the meantime, child and youthcare centres will remain closed throughout level 4 of the lockdown until further notice.
“We will continue to monitor the implementation of level 4 to review this decision . . to ensure that whatever decision is made, it is Covid-19 ready to protect children and staff.”
The minister noted that the closure of these facilities has led to hunger becoming a major problem in local communities.
“Most of the children that go to these centres used to have three meals a day provided.
“We understand the pressure on parents when these children are no longer getting food, especially those that are in the most under-privileged areas.
“However, I have included directives to allow provinces to continue paying subsidies in order to fulfil their administrative responsibilities and payment of stipends.”
On that note, she thanked NGOs and other non-government organisations for helping to distribute food parcels, but asked that they coordinate their distribution efforts with local government to ensure a more efficient process.
She also urged”selfish” people not to take food parcels from others or to sell them.
“This is the time for us to be helping each other,” Zulu said.