HealingLeaves would like to add our voice to those of numerous NGOs in Gauteng strongly condemning the decision by the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) to cut funding for social welfare services by R216-million.
Welfare services for persons with disabilities, the elderly, family services, and HIV services are all essential and should not be cut without warning and without proper consultation. But most alarming is the fact that the new DSD budget has made zero allocation for child protective services.
Too many South African children are faced with violence, neglect, and abuse on a daily basis, with the Police Crime Statistics for the Third Quarter of the 2022-2023 financial year showing that between October 2022 and December 2022, 319 children were murdered, 488 were victims of attempted murder, and 2039 were victims of assault with grievous bodily harm.
Thousands of children in Gauteng are dependent on NGOs to provide them with shelter, food, clothing, and safety, and these vulnerable children are being abandoned by DSD as many of the organisations taking care of them are being forced to close their doors or slash their services because of these budget cuts.
The staff of these organisations who have dedicated their lives to taking care of these children are now faced with the very real possibility of losing their jobs, and the vulnerable children in their care face an uncertain future in which no one takes care of them or tries to protect them from further harm.
The decision to no longer fund child protective services is a clear violation of these children’s human rights, as the South African Constitution (28.1) states that children have the right to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment, the right to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services, and social services; and the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.
Section 9 of the South African Children’s Act also states that:
“In all matters concerning the care, protection, and well-being of a child the standard
that the child’s best interest is of paramount importance, must be applied.”
By not allocating any funds to the NGOs providing child protective services in Gauteng, DSD is going against the principle that the best interests of the child are of paramount importance. Their decision is actively harming vulnerable children and will lead to more cases of abuse and neglect as the organisations trying to protect and care for vulnerable children are left unable to do so.
HealingLeaves has provided training to many of these NGOs on childhood trauma and the importance of safe and caring adults in helping traumatised children recover from abuse and neglect, and because of this working relationship, we know first-hand the importance of the services that child protection organisations provide.
We call on Government to honour its responsibility to care for and protect vulnerable children and reverse its budget decision, as well as to acknowledge the important work that NGOs do in providing services to the most vulnerable members of society.
For further inquiries contact
Marthé Kotze-de Beer
HealingLeaves (NPO Number 093-145-NPO)
073 391 4774