Durban - A South Coast mayor used a house handover event on Mandela Day to lash out at people who abused government social grants and were too lazy to take the initiative to improve their own lives.
Vulamehlo mayor Thabani Dube also used the occasion to call on youngsters to quit using drugs like whoonga.
In a heated 30-minute speech delivered to about 100 people in the community of Vulamehlo, eMkhomazi, Dube said people needed to become less dependent on the government.
He encouraged them to use their skills to create opportunities for themselves and their families.
Earlier, he had congratulated 82-year-old Qede Khathi on receiving a new home built by former prisoners.
Dube was angered by revelations that one of Khathi’s daughters was allegedly receiving social grant money for two young children who lived with their grandfather.
The woman’s whereabouts were unknown.
“There are children living in poor conditions here, she left home and continues to receive the money wherever she is. She doesn’t know where these children go to school, what they eat. Mind you, these are girl children,” he said to groans in the tent.
“During the reapplication stage for the social grants we are told she came back and took these poor children to reregister and left again, so she continues to get this money, she has no idea what her father eats every day,” he said.
Vulamehlo, where the Khathis lived, was the poorest area in the municipality, he said.
Some residents were yet to receive IDs or birth certificates, he said, urging such people to stop waiting for help from the government, but to stand up and take the initiative.
Dube said too many people were happy to receive aid and were too lazy to get up and go to school or work.
He said he had encountered many people who were yet to qualify for a pension who wanted it speeded up because they were too lazy to work.
“One home, one garden. People are given crops and encouraged to have vegetable gardens. But the same people run to Social Development and say they are hungry, the same people run all the way to town to buy cabbage, but you have hands and land – why don’t we grow our own gardens, because these crops are provided for free? We bring poverty unto ourselves.
“People don’t want to plant vegetable gardens, nor do they want to go to school. People just want to complain about government. Well, no, not here. If we don’t fix these things, it will cause poverty to continue for ever.
“We are pleading with you to go to school. It seems that getting pregnant and getting a baby is the fashion or it is stylish. In the end you are a burden to government.
“And I want to warn you, this social grant is not money to do braids and buy alcohol, it is merely for the needs of the child. Research has shown that even at school, children who don’t get basic needs underperform, so we need to fix this.”
Research by Stellenbosch University academic Marissa Coetzee on the impact of child support grants has found that children who benefited from the grant were significantly healthier, taller and less likely to repeat a school year.
“When you are sick with the whoonga you smoke, you become a burden to the government because who pays for you in hospital? It is government,” Dube said.
He reminded the community that Mandela stood for selflessness.
“We are not representing Mandela properly… Our people must help us, do not watch as your neighbour struggles and sleeps hungry” he said.