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Johannesburg - The Department of Social Development spent R2.8 million on a conference to discuss orphans - while millions of destitute children rely on grants of just R300 a month.
The National Conference on Orphans, Vulnerable Children and Youth took place in Durban in May and lasted four days.
The costs were outlined by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to Parliament in a written reply to a question by DA MP Mike Waters.
The department spent R462 000 on accommodation and R497 638 for travel for its officials, while other organisations paid their own way.
The US Agency for International Development paid to hire the venue and for food and beverages for the conference; the department paid another R766 783 for extra venue space.
The department also spent R664 963 “on food and beverages for the launch of Child Protection Week and a gala dinner”.
Another R381 500 was spent on conference goodies likes pens, bags and programmes.
Delegates stayed at the Garden Court hotels, Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel, Protea Hotel Edward, Hilton Hotel, Blue Waters Hotel, Tropicana Hotel, Beach Hotel, Suncoast Hotel and Towers, and the City Lodge.
Dlamini’s spokeswoman, Lumka Oliphant, said on Tuesday night that Waters was being disingenuous and misleading South Africans.
“The department transfers R10 billion a month, which goes to children’s grants or grandparents who collect money for their grandchildren’s grants.
“We ran the adverts during Child Protection Week - an important week for the department.
“A bulk of the money the department spent on the conference also went to advertising - and a bulk of it went to Independent Newspapers, where we ran advertorials on six titles every day that week,” she said.
Oliphant added that aside from the department officials and sponsors of the event, the conference was also attended by children, children’s organisations and orphans.
There are 10 941 901 child support grant beneficiaries and 562 975 foster child grant beneficiaries, according to South African Social Security Agency statistics for the end of August.
The child support grant was increased by R10 a month from this month, so it is now R300 a month.
The foster child grant is R800 a month.