Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Social Development loses 33 officials to Covid-19, offices close over 200 times

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Oct 14, 2020

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Cape Town – The Social Development Department has lost 33 officials to Covid-19. About 1 555 others have contracted the virus.

This emerged when the department and its entities appeared before the social development portfolio committee on Wednesday.

Briefing the committee, acting director-general Linton Mchunu said the department had endeavoured to ensure that all its staff and clients were safe.

"We put measures in place to protect staff from contracting Covid-19. A number of staff were affected and infected, and we lost a number of lives."

Mchunu also said their offices had been assessed in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Covid-19 risk assessments.

Protocols were established in line with the departments of Health, Employment and Labour, and Public Service and Administration.

"One of the areas was the quality of masks. We had to change that and ensure we have proper masks," he said, adding that awareness and education of staff was conducted to ensure the staff adhered to the protocols.

Mchunu said that while protecting millions of people, Social Development staff found themselves at risk of contracting the virus.

"We lost a number of critical staff both at national and province (level). There has been a gap that has been created, which is not easy to fill," he said.

In his report, Mchunu said there were 33 deaths, 1 555 confirmed positive cases, 4 375 suspected cases and 5 141 officials were quarantined.

He said 1 429 officials had recovered, a rate of 92%.

The department’s offices had closed 239 times.

He stated that they were reopening their social service centres that were compliant with protocols and guidelines under alert level 1.

"We had to issue protocols and guidelines as the majority of our service is still very much contact service," Mchunu said.

MPs sent condolences to the families and friends of the deceased officials.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families," DA MP Bridget Masango said.

EFF MP Delisiwe Ngwenya echoed her sentiments in sending condolences to families who lost their loved ones in the line of duty.

IFP MP Liesl van der Merve said: "I convey condolences to the front line staff who lost their lives."

ACDP MP Marie Sukers also sent her condolences to the families of the officials and the department on the critical people they have lost.

"One life lost is too many," Sukers said.

Political Bureau

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