Social workers take a stand for all

Carron Nitsckie, Ruwayda September, both from Crisis Line, Pelisa Ntisana, Tasneem Kaffoor, from the Department of Social Development Mitchells Plain, Geraldine Young, from Crisis Line, and social worker Buyiswa Ngewu, from Crisis Line.

Mitchell’s Plain Department of Social Development social workers receive up to 150 new cases from Tafelsig residents every month.

Cases range from child protection cases, which go to the designated child protection social workers, to probation cases, which go to their probation officers, as well as specialised cases, which are handled by the relevant specialist social workers, including substance abuse, people with disabilities, seniors, victims of violence and trauma debriefing.

Speaking at a 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign programme at Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre (CHC) on Wednesday December 4, social worker Ebrahim Lodewyk said Mitchell’s Plain is a country on its own.

“Tafelsig is a country within that country on its own.

“Every month close to 150 people come through our doors. New cases. Close to 150 families walking through that door,” he said.

In each team there are only seven social workers.

He said they were human, got tired and look for other work.

“We also have families. My kinders gaan ook nog vir my aangee (want ek is nie daar vir hulle nie),” he said.

Mr Lodewyk called on those listening, to work with the social workers and follow due process.

He said a social worker was accessible after hours through the police, who had all of the contact numbers.

He said if a social worker is not available they can call the office manager, and if not the regional manager, who will get into his or her car to sort out the situation or get someone to sort it out.

Mr Lodewyk said the same social worker who started work at 7.30am may be the same person dealing with the case at 10pm or 11pm.

He said there was a shortage of social workers but that hopefully Mitchell’s Plain would get another social worker after 200 of them are dispersed across the country – 30 to the Western Cape.

Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre (CHC) social worker, Mary-Anne Jonkerman encouraged attendees at the programme to speak to someone, whether it would be from Crisis Line, the Mitchell’s Plain Network Opposing Abuse, Mosaic or the Department of Social Development.

Joshua Covenant Chigome, spokesman for Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez, said they have the statistics of all of these cases but that it was a large database.

He said social workers provide prevention, intervention and statutory social services to clients, with a range of sub-categories of social workers in the department with specific roles, including designated child protection social workers, probation officers – problem children, referring them to child and youth care centres; registered service providers.

They also facilitate small individual programmes like social relief of distress, substance abuse and victim empowerment.

“There are two social work supervisors and nine social workers have been assigned to the Tafelsig area, and they receive around 100 to 150 new cases a month.

“These cases are then assigned to the various social workers,” he said.

Mr Chigome said cases do vary, as does the level of investigation and further intervention needed.

The national Department of Social Development has appointed 200 social workers to work in various provinces, the numbers differ per province, to support gender-based violence services.

“So far 22 social workers have been recruited for the Western Cape but their allocation to local offices is still under way. This deployment from the national department is only for a period of four months – from April 1, the province will receive R16m to recruit 30 social workers on a permanent basis, which requires a separate recruitment process,” he said.

The advert for these posts has already been published.

Mr Chigome explained that the department is not a legislated uniformed service like SAPS, the fire department or emergency medical services, which requires 24-hour availability for emergencies.

“Social workers are public servants appointed under the Public Service Act, and are subject to the same conditions of services as all other public servants.”

He said therefore, where possible, each of the service delivery areas has a standby social worker.

In the case of an emergency – where a child is in immediate danger or there is a matter of gender-based violence – the police must be called as these are also criminal matters.

All police stations have rosters of the standby social workers.

The police officials will then activate the standby social worker who will respond.

Particularly in the hot spot areas, it may be required for the police to accompany the social workers, as their safety is also at risk.

Mosaic is a non-governmental organisation with a strong understanding of and expertise in the field of violence against women, domestic violence, sexual violence and sexual reproductive health. They have a specific focus on preventing and reducing abuse and domestic violence, particularly for women and youth living in disadvantaged communities. They deal with all kinds of abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological, emotional, verbal, economic, harassment, stalking and damage to property.

They can help with obtaining protection orders. They do couple counselling for marriages, single and family counselling. They offer court support and have public awareness campaigns, police development and advocacy of all forms of violence. They are based at Nelson Mandela Family and Youth Centre in Tafelsig, between 9am and 4pm. For more information, call 021 397 3291.

WhatsApp 082 323 2437 or email

Their office will be closed from Thursday December 19 until Thursday January 9 next year.

Mitchell’s Plain Network Opposing Abuse and Mosaic do similar work. For more information, visit them on the first floor at Beaconvale Community Frail Care Centre, corner of Rambler and Pontiac Streets in Beacon Valley, find them on Facebook @Mitchell’splainnetworkopposingabuse or call Techiah September on 021 376 0445