The Eastern Cape Department of Social Development must, as a matter of urgency, assign more field social workers to children graduating from the Ernest Malgas Treatment Centre in Port Elizabeth.
Yesterday, 8 July 2019, I conducted an oversight inspection at the Centre and found it to be a well-run, state-owned drug rehabilitation facility for children – the only one if its kind in the province. I was also joined by the DA’s Shadow MEC for Education, Yusuf Cassim MPL.
The Centre admits 38 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 for a 9-week treatment schedule.
It is well staffed with social workers, nurses, childcare workers, administrative personal, a clinical psychologist and a doctor that visits the facility.
Of great concern is the problem of children relapsing after leaving the Centre due to a lack of proper aftercare.
Also concerning is that many of these learners are refused reintegration in their schools by the school principals, despite having completed their rehabilitation.
The Department of Social Development must, as a matter of urgency, make more field social workers available to take care of these patients after they leave the safety of the facility.
I will now write to the MEC for Social Development, Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi, to ensure that the department gives this issue urgent attention.
Yusuf Cassim, MPL, will be engaging with the Department of Education around the reintegration of learners, as well as assigning teachers to the centre, as this is currently lacking.
The patients are removed from school for a 9-week period and receive no teaching during this period. The learners take their schoolbooks with them when admitted and do homework and studies for tests and exams.
No qualified teachers are, however, available to assist them with any questions if they do not understand the work.
Mr Cassim will also write to the MEC for Education, Fundile Gade, to urgently intervene and place teachers at the Ernest Malgas Treatment Centre.
In the DA-governed Western Cape, funded substance abuse treatment services have grown from seven in 2009 to 51 in 2017.
Since 2014, the Western Cape has provided early intervention services to over 30,000 individuals, with in-patient services having helped over 5,000 individuals and close on 10,000 additional individuals receiving out-patient treatment.
The DA is committed to building One South Africa for all, which includes providing the necessary care to those who need it.