Stop Suffering Children

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Child Welfare East London ceased operations on Monday due to drastic state budget cuts.

This week (June 14th 2017) the organisation was forced to retrench all 12 full-time social workers after the provincial social development department cut its annual budget from R2.2-million in the last financial year to just R235000 from April 1. One of the houses of safety in Southernwood (Ukukhanya Programme) has been closed due to lack of funding from the social development department. The NPO celebrated its 100th year last year and is a lifeline in more than 3000 cases of child abuse and rape victims from 23 service areas in the Buffalo City Metro.

The centre has been locked since last Thursday when the 12 social workers were retrenched. One social worker, Nosipho Gontshi, said she had handed over to the centre three children whose ages range from four to eight. They lost their mother two years ago after a stray bullet struck her in a gang-related attack in Ziphunzana.

Gontshi said she was at a very advanced stage in accessing foster care grant through the assistance of CWEL. It was after years of trying to get help from the department of social development that she was referred to Child Welfare and only now did she have hope that she would be able to access some assistance from the department.

“I don’t know what to do now because this was my last hope.”

Another casualty of the closure, social worker Sibusiso Sikrenya, 29, of Southernwood in East London, said their retrenchment did not only mean losing their jobs and income, but, in his caseload alone, 900 abused children under his care would no longer get his support. Sikrenya supports 4 people, and says “We had tried to engage the social development department on the cuts before they were effected but we never got any response. We receive no support from them.”

Hundreds of families who used to receive relief from physical abuse and psychological support from the centre will now be turned away as it battles to manage its new financial position.

A woman at the gate said she was from Vergenoeg where three children were left with their father and another suffered multiple instances of rape. The three children were taken to safe homes by the centre but had to be brought back closer to East London, while the centre was in the process of getting them birth certificates.

We cannot stand idly by and allow what happened with the Life Esidimeni closure to happen ever again. Our poor, young and vulnerable should be given every chance and deserve to be cared for. I plead that the Ministers and MEC's do what they have been mandated to do! This is not party politics. Caring for our social workers and children is our collective responsibility!

Sign this petition and send a message to our leaders. We will not sit back and allow you to kill our little ones!!



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