A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
SOCIAL DEVBELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
6 September 2006
REGULATIONS FOR THE OLDER PERSONS BILL: PROGRESS: BRIEFING BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT AND CASA MIA OLD AGE HOME (GAUTENG): PROGRESS BREIFING BY GAUTENG DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Chairperson: Ms T Tshivhase (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Regulations for the Older Persons Bill
Casa Mia Old Age Home: Status Report
Chief Director’s Report on Casa Mia
Community Planning and Development Section (Johannesburg) Report on Casa Mia Villa (not presented)
Social Services-Casa Mia Meeting (minute)
The Committee agreed to reschedule the costing of the Children’s Bill.
The National Department of Social Development informed the Committee that the process to draft the regulations of the Older Persons Bill was underway, and that they hoped to have the draft regulations operational by the end of March 2007. Questions asked by members included the processes in approving the Regulations, the consultations held with rural areas and the procedure to be followed by the Provinces in disseminating information and the role of NGOs.
The Committee viewed a recording of the Casa Mia exposé that had been broadcast by E-TV. All Members voiced their disappointment, shock and disgust at the fact that the elderly were expected to live in such conditions. A number of issues and concerns were raised and it was commented that the magnitude of the crisis demanded not only the Committee’s but also the President’s intervention. The Gauteng Department of Social Development detailed the measures it would take to remedy the situation, as well as the department’s day-to-day challenges that might have contributed to the crisis. It was clear that all other stakeholders had to be involved. The province would over the next three financial years receive an increasing amount of money for the implementation and monitoring of the provisions of the Older Person’s Bill. It was believed that this should improve the care of and options available to all elderly people. It was suggested that the Portfolio Committee should consult with the Portfolio Committee of Local Government, and should investigate conditions first hand before submitting a final report.
Rescheduling of The Costing of the Children’s Bill
Mr M Waters (DA) asked when the costing of the Children’s Bill, which had been scheduled for that day would take place..
The Committee Secretary, Mr Mzolisi Fukula, explained that the crisis at the Casa Mia Old Age home had been reported and it was felt that it should should be dealt with as a matter of urgency. Therefore it had been decided to postpone the Costing of the Children’s Bill, for which the Department had already prepared, but which was currently not with the National Assembly. He asked for guidance from Members as to when they would like to reschedule the costing of the Children’s Bill.
Mr Waters suggested that the costing of the Children’s Bill be rescheduled to that coming Friday.
Mr Fukula explained that the Committee’s agenda for that day had already been finalised. The Committee would receive a briefing on the Child Justice and Sexual Offences Bills in the following week. He suggested that Members should propose a date, which could be confirmed when all stakeholders had indicated they would be available.
Mr B Mkongi (ANC) suggested that the costing of the Children’s Bill be added to whatever was on the agenda for that Friday.
Ms S Rajbally (MF) proposed that the Committee consider what the outstanding matters on the Children’s Bill were, and that members should agree to address urgent issues immediately.
Ms Lana Petersen (Parliamentary Liaison Officer, Department of Social Development (DSD)) informed the Committee that the National Council of Provinces was currently considering the Children’s Bill. On 12 September the Select Committee on Social Services would receive an initial briefing by the Department. The Department had proposed that a two-day workshop be scheduled during the upcoming three-week parliamentary recess in order to take the Children’s Bill forward to the provincial legislatures. It suggested that the Select Committee and the provincial legislatures attend the workshop. Ms Petersen said that if Portfolio Committee members were interested, they could also attend. The workshop was aimed at explaining what the Section 76 Children’s Amendment Bill was about, how it would interface, and how the costing of the Children’s Bill was done. An external consultant did the costing, and that person’s availability would need to be negotiated. She emphasised that it would be necessary for the person who had done the actual costing to be present at any meeting on the costing. .
The Chairperson considered Ms Peterson’s suggestion very useful. In the absence of alternative suggestions she said that she would contact the Chairperson of the Select Committee in order to make further arrangements.
Regulations for the Older Persons Bill: National Department of Social Development Briefing
Ms Thuli Mahlangu (Director: Older Persons, DSD) briefly informed the Committee of the progress that had been made as far as the regulations were concerned. The tender for a service provider to develop the regulations was advertised on 20 August 2006, and the closing date for acceptance of proposals would be on 15 September 2006. The Department hoped that the appointment would be finalised by the end of September and envisaged that the draft regulations would be completed by mid-January 2007. Mr Pierre Du Preez (Legal advisor, DSD) added that the Department had been busy preparing an implementation plan for the Older Person’s Bill in a number of provinces. They hoped to put the regulations into operation by the end of March 2007.
Adv T Masutha (ANC) wondered whether the Committee had to approve the regulations.
Mr Du Preez explained that Section 34 of the Act dealt with the regulations and that Subsection 5 provided that before the Minister made any regulations he or she had to publish a draft of the proposed legislation in the Gazette, together with a notice calling on interested persons to comment in writing within a specific period of time. The Minister also had to submit the draft regulations contemplated in subsection 5 to Parliament along with comments received in terms of that subsection. This had to be done before the final publication. The regulations thus did have to be approved by the Portfolio as well as the Select Committees.
Adv Masutha commented that technically the Portfolio Committee was not required to actually approve the regulations.
Mr Du Preez replied that in practice the Department would not go ahead with the regulations if the Committee did not approve of them.
Mr K Morwamoche (ANC) wondered whether the Department had consulted even the rural areas which were so often forgotten during these processes.
Ms Mahlangu explained that the Department had urged all provinces to create awareness amongst their service providers, their departments and all other sectors that would engage with the legislation.
Mr Du Preez said that receiving a briefing depended upon the provinces themselves. The National Department requested a meeting with the provincial role players. He said that, as had been the case with the Social Assistance Act, public hearings could extend beyond the capital of a province. The onus was on the province to hold public hearings.
Mr Morwamoche felt that if the Department had consulted only one section of the population it would have violated the Constitution.
Ms M Gumede (ANC) pointed out that there was a procedure to follow. She cautioned that when non-governmental organisations (NGOs) made submissions they represented themselves and not the public. They did not respond to the mandate they were given but created awareness in their immediate areas. She pointed out that the best way to consult the community would be through an imbizo where all stakeholders would be present. NGOs and other stakeholders did not necessarily go to these areas. She added that if departments could consult with even just the chiefs within the villages it would be positive since chiefs were in a position to convey messages to the people.
Casa Mia Old Age Home: Briefing
The Chairperson said that during the previous week the Committee had received a presentation by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), and after that presentation Ms Marilyn Lilley had approached the Committee regarding a situation at Casa Mia Old Age Home. The matter was therefore taken up as part of the Committee’s oversight role in exercising vigilance in ensuring service delivery.
Mr Lors Law (Committee Researcher) explained that on 29 August 2006 the E-TV investigative journalism programme Third Degree focussed on the conditions at Casa Mia Old Age Home, a municipal residential facility in Johannesburg. In the exposé, which was followed by reports in the press, it was revealed that residents lived in unhygienic, unsafe and inhumane conditions. It was alleged that although complaints had been made with the provincial Department of Social Development, with the City Council and with the manager of the facility, little had been done to address the situation.
Ms Marilyn Lilley, who in the past had been involved with organisations fighting for the promotion of older persons rights, brought the mater to the Committee’s attention. She asked that the Committee take urgent action to try to facilitate relocation of residents to alternative, safe and hygienic accommodation that would be better suited to their needs, and that an independent enquiry be instituted into the conditions at the facility. It was argued that had regular inspections of the facility taken place these issues might have been dealt with much earlier.
Ms Lilley suggested that there was scant compliance with what the legislation and the regulations required. She felt that an investigation should be launched into why there was such a lack of compliance. Further correspondence pointed to the fact that the son of one of the residents had contacted Age In Action, which was the biggest national organisation concerned with issues related to older persons. This organisation merely passed the query on to the Gauteng Department of Social Services without themselves getting involved It was felt that because Age in Action received part of its funding from the state, the organisation should have done more.
Mr Law said that a whole set of documents had been forwarded to the Committee, including the Minutes of a meeting that had taken place on 28 March 2006 between the Manager of the facility, representatives from the Johannesburg Municipality and the Provincial department, residents and a resident’s son.
These Minutes revealed that issues raised included the fact that the Emergency Medical Services felt that the building would be unsafe during a fire drill, the dangers represented by repeated break ins; residents cooking in their rooms and non-residents and non-staff living on the premises.
The fact that the facility had no Management Committee, as required by the legislation, was also a matter of concern. The Manager appeared to have been remiss in his responsibilities. There had been complaints of abuse by members of staff but such complaints had not been formalised or followed up. There did not appear to be an incidents register and residents did not formally lodge complaints, for fear of victimisation and intimidation by staff members. Staff were seen as protected by unions.
The Minutes revealed that a plan of action with specific target dates had been agreed to. Most of the issues that were supposed to be attended to would have been finalised within 3 months, while some others would have been attended to immediately. The measures that would have been taken included:
-the establishment of a management committee;
-the introduction of a complaints or incidents report and a complaints procedure;
-an immediate start to the repair of the facility
-measures to ensure the safety of residents.
From the information at the Committee’s disposal it could not be determined whether these actions had been taken. Judging from the press reports a police official had visited the area, as well as the facility, during the previous week and found difficult circumstances that suggested that some of the actions had not been followed up and implemented.
The issues raised by the TV programme and the press reports, as well as Ms Lilley’s correspondence, echoed some of the concerns that had been raised by the Ministerial Committee of Inquiry that was instituted in 2000 and that tabled a report in 2002. The same issues were also raised when the Committee dealt with the Older Persons Bill.
Particular concerns included:
-the effectiveness of the management of residential facilities;
-the role of management committees in ensuring that the rights of older persons were protected;
-the ability of provincial departments to monitor conditions at facilities adequately and effectively;
-the availability of funding to maintain residential facilities;
-the availability and role of social workers and legal practitioners as part of the team of professionals tasked with safeguarding the rights of older and vulnerable persons,
-the effectiveness of complaints procedures as a protective measure; and
-the role of civil society organisations and those defending the role of older persons and fighting elderly abuse.
It was noted that some of these issues would be relevant in the discussion around Casa Mia.
Gauteng Department of Social Development: Update
Ms Margot Davids (Chief Director: Gauteng Department of Social Development) said that there was no way that she could justify what had happened at Casa Mia. She said that the Department subsidised 97 other old age homes and that that was where efforts and extreme monitoring took place. The Casa Mia facility was an assisted living facility that fell under the local council. Her Department merely had a monitoring role to play. Since being contacted her office had been involved in interactions with the council. She briefed the Committee on the background of the Casa Mia facility, on structural concerns related to the facility as well as the restorative actions that had been proposed. The latter included the relocation of the residents should the facility be deregistered, or the appropriate registration of the facility should the city approve the proposed status report. She also detailed the challenges in terms of management and operations that existed at the facility, the relocation strategy and the implications involved should a decision to renovate the facility be taken.
After watching a recording of the exposé the Chairperson commented that everyone present was now a witness to the dreadful conditions at Casa Mia. One did not know how many old age homes were in similar or worse conditions. The Committee did not expect older people to be treated in this manner and this was why the Older Persons Bill was before Parliament. She commented that in her language there was a saying that older people were our gods. If they were not treated in a manner they deserved this would lead to a curse for the rest of your life.
Adv Masutha wondered whether the National Department had any comment to make in response to the footage that members had just viewed. Ms Mahlangu responded that the Department unfortunately only became aware of the Casa Mia situation after the programme was shown.
Ms H Weber (DA) wondered whether such facilities were not visited on a regular basis. She was also concerned that an estimate of the remedial works had been made in the absence of building plans.
Ms Gumede commented that sometimes there was too much talk with too little action. She wondered why no action had been taken against the manager who had been charged with maintaining and running the facility. Instead he had merely requested money to repair the damage he had allowed to occur. She wondered whether this was an appropriate way for Government to maintain its facilities and how long the renovation of Casa Mia would be maintained should the manager be given the R3 million he requested. She feared that after five years the building would be in the same state again if the same person was allowed to manage it. She predicted further chaos should departments continue running things in this manner. She commented that this was merely a waste of the State’s money, and other routes must be considered. She lamented the fact that since 6 June nothing had been done.
Ms I Direko (ANC) said that it was clear that a number of people had been aware of the situation at Casa Mia. She was nauseated by the fact that the Council was prepared to collect R350 from elderly people who never received the services they were paying for and felt that the laissez-faire attitude of the councils needed to be addressed immediately. There were too many delays in the process to address the matter. Ms Direko emphasised that the Committee should not abdicate responsibility by delegation to provinces or to the national department. The Committee should take firm and strong action because the treatment of old people at that facility was immoral and cruel. She could not understand how people could be expected to live in such an unsafe building right in the middle of Johannesburg and commented that even a pigsty was cleaned regularly. She was distressed that people in the Council were earning large salaries but doing nothing to justify them.
Ms Direko urged that the Committee should, through the Minister, send a strong message to the President because if urgent measures were not taken the province would merely report more delays and the situation would remain the same. She emphasised that there should be no delegation of duties.
Ms C Ludwabe (ANC) said that she had never in her life seen such filthy conditions and could not believe that human beings were expected to live like that. She expressed shock and disappointment, and agreed with the previous two speakers that immediate action should be taken and that the President should be informed..
Mr Morwamoche felt that many other stakeholders should also be present to state their case. He supported the idea that the President should be made aware of the matter since the Minister failed to control local governments. He commented that the only time directors appeared to interfere was when the media released reports. Managers had long ago been told to stop sitting in their offices and blindly making decisions. They should be going to the people because that was what the constitution and their job description required. He said that the Members of Parliament who came from Gauteng had been raising these issues for a long time. He warned that the Committee might be shocked to learn that similar situations existed in other provinces.
Mr L Nzimande (ANC) raised a number of issues that he felt needed attention. He wondered why there was no management committee and what the role of the church organisations and ward councillor was. He asked whether the Manager had submitted regular reports because his behaviour raised issues of performance in terms of his duties and responsibilities. He further wondered whether the R3 million requested for renovations was an additional amount in top of the municipal budget that had been approved in June. He pointed out that that there was a specific procedure as far as deregistration was concerned. The facility could not merely be deregistered since the residents would still need to be relocated.
Mr Nzimande asked whether the Ministerial report had been discussed with officials and departments and whether retraining and re-strategising had taken place. He also sought clarity on the difference between an assisted living facility and an old age home was.
Mr Mkongi said that he was relieved that he had become aware of how older people were treated while he was still less than 40 years of age. He said that older people were our libraries and that they should be valued and respected. The situation was unacceptable and scary. He said that he had listened to the Department trying to defend the situation on a radio talk show that morning, despite the obvious fact that there was a problem.
He also felt that Parliament should take a stand on the issue. The Committee should pay a visit to the facility themselves and then write a report that could be tabled in Parliament. He feared that if the media had not revealed it, this Committee would have been unaware of the situation. He wondered how many other such problems existed. He felt that it was a disgrace for South Africa that conditions had been better under the Apartheid government. The people who were supposed to take care of their needs were not doing their jobs. The case could be considered as a study of the quality of service delivery during and after Apartheid. He emphatically declared that this was not a better life for all.
Mr Mkongi also wondered what actions had been taken against the Manager. He too felt that the residents should be relocated. Renovation could not take place while the residents were there. Parliament should visit, write a report that contained recommendations, and then request the Minister and the President to intervene. He suggested that there should be a study of all such facilities to determine whether they were in an acceptable condition.
Ms X Makasi (ANC) agreed with the previous speakers and felt that it would be appropriate to look at the other old age homes in the region. She wondered whether the Department of Housing had a role to play and said that all role players should be involved.
Ms F Batyi (ID) said that she now feared growing old. She was concerned about the fact that while all the deliberations were going on the residents were still living in the same conditions. She wondered what could be done to ensure that they were removed from the facility with immediate effect.
Adv Masutha hoped that the Department would look at the matter holistically. The building, which was in his constituency, could probably not be renovated. Problems would recur since the building was in an extreme state of neglect and fixing would offer only a short-term solution. He suggested that it might be more feasible to demolish it. He pointed out that it was also situated in an area that was rapidly deteriorating and was becoming a hotspot for crime.
Ms I Mars (IFP) said that the situation at Casa Mia represented a humanitarian crisis to which the Portfolio Committee needed to respond as a matter of urgency. She agreed that Parliament should visit the facility to further investigate the matter. It was a poor reflection of Parliament as well as the public in general if one had to rely on the media and civil society to expose such conditions. She felt that Parliament was failing the people who had put them in a position of power. As soon as the situation had become known officials should have taken every action to ensure that the conditions improved.
Ms Weber supported the proposal of a feasibility study to consider whether it was worth renovating the facility, especially since it was situated in an area that was not suited for elderly people. She felt that it would be more feasible to sell the building and relocate the residents to a facility that would be able to render the services they needed.
The Chairperson suggested that officials should sometimes ask themselves what they would do and how they would feel should they be placed in the situations some members of the public were forced to dwell in.
Ms Davids agreed with the members’ sentiments. She was also very concerned about the matter and felt that something needed to be done. The Gauteng DSD would be able to take certain actions immediately. She apologised for the fact that she would not be able to respond to all the comments and questions the members had raised individually.
She confirmed that monitoring and evaluation was a provincial responsibility and pointed out that the province experienced very serious issues of capacity. Members themselves were aware of the impact of the scarcity of social workers and this scarcity was but one of the areas of concern in terms of the monitoring. The province had been dealing with crises, because it could not deal with every matter of concern. It dealt with matters as they got reported.
In the Johannesburg area six social workers responded to about 400 different types of institutions. Much assistance, particularly in terms of subsidised and frail care facilities, had come from the provincial department. She emphasised that the department believed in Operation Dignity. While they did not ignore the new policy members had to bear in mind that the old policy still applied as far as frail care was concerned.
The Department had also experienced serious budgetary constraints. The Gauteng Department of Social Development used to have a budget of over R6 billion but now had to function on a budget of about R985 million. She pleaded with the Committee to assist with the manner in which allocation of resources happened. The provincial department had been given an additional R8 million for the implementation of the Older Person’s Bill. This was the first time that additional moneys had been allocated to do the type of work that was required. In accordance with the new policy the department also considered community-based options and not only residential facilities. In 2007 the department would have R47 million at its disposal for the implementation of the Older Persons Bill. The idea was to use that allocation to introduce home based care, and many other measures that the Bill required. A business plan and an indication of how the money would be spent had been put in place. She emphasised that the allocation was really meant for community based options of keeping older persons in their homes while providing the services they might need. Casa Mia was an example of a residential facility dating back to an era when older people were placed in homes rather than taken care of by the communities. Turning that kind of thinking around would not be an easy process. She agreed that interventions, advocacy, and communication were necessary.
She pointed out that only four people had responded to an advert for thirteen social workers. The Department was considering the use of social auxiliary workers, who would work under a social worker..
The provincial Department was involved in a political process with the MEC of Social Development who was interfacing with his MEC counterparts. One of the matters that had been raised at a meeting the previous week highlighted the fact that the provincial Department of Local Government never brought processes to the table. The provincial DSD had been sharing policies, as was required by the norms and standards, especially in relation to the Older Person’s Bill. Casa Mia, however, was never on that particular agenda. It was at those kinds of platforms that the matter needed to be discussed. The Department would for the next month have meetings with all the different municipalities to address the following three issues: child headed households, early childhood development (ECD) and older person’s facilities. The upgrading of some of the facilities would also feature in the discussions. The DSD had also had discussions with the Department of Health regarding their role in terms of the care and upkeep of older people and especially the provision of health services.
Ms Davids would be part of the meeting with the MEC that was aimed at discussing the relocation strategy for Casa Mia residents. The Council would then voice its position. The fact that the building should also be considered for demolition would also be discussed. In the meantime a dedicated team would need to do an assessment of the residents’ frailty and their ability to live on their own. The DSD made provision for frail care but made special dispensations in cases where people were totally homeless. She urged members to bear in mind that residents paid for their stay in the facilities out of their old age pensions. Often the entire grant would go towards the payments for staying in subsidised facilities. The provincial DSD had discussions with the National Department regarding how best to revise the subsidy scheme for older persons and to upgrade such facilities. They would also consider the cost of caring for an older person in a state facility as opposed to the care in a subsidised facility.
She pointed out that the Casa Mia situation highlighted many deep seated issues related to the care of older persons. Much more discussion and consultation, as well as policies, would be needed because the very way in which society responded to older people would need to be addressed and upgraded.
Ms Lea Smith (Deputy Director Gauteng DSD) said that there was a tremendous shortage of sub-economic housing for older people and for people who were living with disabilities. There were social workers in all the regions of Gauteng and they were part of the screening of the older persons who went into sub-economic housing. Local government provided sub-economic housing for older people. Experience of some of the other local government homes or retirement villages reflected the same problems and there had been interventions with local government to rectify some of these problems. She pointed out that one of the major concerns related to older persons’ unwillingness to move out of these facilities when they become too frail to stay in them and need extra care.
She said that the DSD had had consultations and engaged in a research project into the various aspects that were highlighted in the ministerial report. From there they started to develop services. They expected the subsidised facilities to have community outreach programmes so that communities realised the need to keep older people in their homes for as long as possible and render the necessary services within the community. The department managed to motivate their case and presently 59 such programmes were running in the province. She emphasised that this was not enough. Some areas were not covered. The funds just allocated would facilitate more programmes. Home based care programmes would be developed in at least twenty of the townships that the MEC had identified.
The provincial department used the national screening tool for screening older people. It considered the needs of the older people as well as their economic status. If a person reached a count of thirty he or she could be placed in a subsidised residential facility. The older person needed to give permission in order to forward the specific screening form to an organization for services to be rendered but some of them refused.
Ms Smith said that the provincial department went out of its way for those people who did not really qualify to be admitted to residential facilities. Up to now none of her motivations had been turned down. This process would be followed for the relocation of the residents of Casa Mia as well. A process of consultation would take place to see how and when to best relocate the 128 residents. This process would start as soon as possible.
Mr du Preez said that one of the Chapters of the Older Persons Bill was called “Creating an Enabling and Supportive Environment for Older Persons”. This chapter dealt with the development of and compliance with national norms and standards, and provided that the Minister could prescribe and define national norms and standards. It provided for the provision of services for the older persons as well as or the monitoring and evaluation of those services. It also provided for services delivered by third parties and the guiding principles for the provision of such services. The regulations would deal with matters such as the development of national norms and standards, service standards, and the levels of community-based care and support services. Assisted living would not be mentioned in the Act itself but would be provided for in the regulations.
Mr Mkongi proposed that since there had been much mention of the role local governments played the chairpersons of the two Portfolio Committees should meet to assess the magnitude of the problems at Casa Mia. This would facilitate the adequate and sensitive handling of the situation.
Adv Masutha said that the social assistance function was relocated to create a space for departments of social development, nationally and provincially, to grow a welfare services function in relation to their budget and capacity. Much progress had been made. He felt that there should be dedicated engagement with treasury in order to further strengthen these functions.
Ms Rajbally said that it was encouraging to know that additional allocations had been made. She wondered whether the allocations provided for more services, better homes and facilities and whether it paid for administration as well as for more resources for social workers.
Ms Davids responded that there was an ongoing interface with Treasury. Some of the issues regarding the capacity for social workers had not been researched thoroughly. Two bids had been made for social auxiliary workers and for social work bursaries. These were made for quick gains in terms of the integrated service delivery model. The department also bid for cars for social workers. More research would be done into whether the department could bid for accommodation for social workers in the coming financial year. The final bid to the Provincial Treasury would be during the coming week. Quite a lot of work had been done to get the Older Person’s Bill through and accepted by National Treasury. If National Treasury accepted it, the Provincial Treasury would too.
Some of the R55 million allocation the province would receive in 2007/08 would be going towards compensation of employees and the provision of goods and services. Research had also been done into the impact of residential and community care in terms of the old Act. The Gauteng Department of Housing had a budget for the upgrading of public facilities, but had failed to upgrade. The Gauteng DSD had requested them to put the policy back on to the table because it wanted the reach to be broadened so that facilities outside of the 20 townships earmarked by the Minister could be included.
She explained that the largest amount of money went into the transfer budget for NGOs. This was because the department realised that it was under-subsidising such facilities. Next year the community based care projects would be expanded and would include upgrading and subsidisation.
National and Provincial Treasury would monitor to ensure that budgetary targets were met. The Department had to provide quarterly reports and spending had to be monitored. In 2006/2007 the department received R8 million; in 2007/8 it would receive R55 million and in 2008/9 an additional R145 million. There was a marked increase in the allocations and the Department would be able to perform the functions it was meant to.
Ms Weber wondered what the ratio of social workers to the population in Gauteng was.
Ms Davids explained that there were 1600 registered social workers in Gauteng. At the moment, the Gauteng DSD had 600 posts but had been requesting more. At last count there were 150 vacancies. The posts were advertised as three-year contract positions. It was hoped that within that period they would get onto the organogram and would become permanent. The NGO sector consisted of 600 social workers.
Mr Marwamoche wondered why there was a need to tender for assistance in the drafting of the regulations of the Older Person’s Bill.
Mr Du Preez said that he dealt with about 15 Acts and regulations and did not have enough time to concentrate on just one issue for few months. For this reason, the department tendered for the drafting of the regulations. The person awarded the tender would work with the Departmental Committee and would have to stay within the boundaries of the Act. He assured the Committee that should errors arise the advisors would be able to rectify them.
Adv Masutha requested that in issuing the tender the competency of the drafter should be beyond question. He reminded everyone that the quality of the initial draft of the Act had been very poor. Drafting standards needed to be adhered to, in order to avoid a waste of state resources. In terms of Casa Mia he proposed that the Committee should write a report and table it in the House with recommendations for appropriate action. This would ensure that action would be taken.
Mr Mkongi said that if a report were to be tabled in Parliament the Committee would have to have first-hand knowledge of the conditions at Casa Mia. The Committee should probably consult with the Portfolio Committee of Local Government.
The Chairperson said that she believed that the officials from Gauteng realised the seriousness of the issues around Casa Mia. All the relevant sectors should play their part in resolving the matters. She concluded by stressing the value of the elderly. She thanked the officials for their participation and knew that in future they would not hesitate to respond to the Committee’s requests for briefings.
The meeting was adjourned.