The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Mr Mondli Gungubele, has noted with concern reports that parents misuse children's social grant money and spend it on gambling, social clubs (stokvels) and buying alcohol and cellphones.
"The public hearings have exposed the worrisome circumstances under which South Africa's societal foundation (children) find itself. The information we are being exposed to brings to the fore the views of Oliver Tambo that a nation which cares about its future cannot be found wanting on the state of its children," Mr Gungubele said.
The Tzaneen and Polokwane residents informed the committee during its public hearings into the Children's Amendment Bill that young parents misuse their children's social grants by spending them on gambling activities, alcohol, social clubs and buying expensive cellphones.
Furthermore, the residents also raised concerns that only a small number of children at Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres receive subsidies. They told the committee that a large number of children do not receive subsidies and disability grants because they do not have birth certificates.
They said that results in children dropping out of schools and ECD centres, and end up on the streets abusing drugs and alcohol. The committee was also told about the prevalence of a habit of relatives abusing children sexually and inadvertently, children being expelled from schools and end up abusing drugs and alcohol.
Mr Gungubele said: "This is difficult. You should never take it for granted. Expelling a child from school without an option is difficult. The question we must ask is, where are you asking that child to go to?"
He said the Department of Social Development needs to attend to all the matters urgently. "The department needs to use social workers who work with communities to identify instances of child neglect. There can never be justification for a parent to misuse money intended to feed a poor five-year-old child. This is stealing from your child," emphasised Mr Gungubele.
The committee noted other challenges that are specific to Limpopo, challenges that include drugs that are smuggled into schools through the use of bunny chows, child safety at the ECD centres, social media content, abuse of drugs and gangsterism. He said that the challenges require a lot of work.
The committee will conclude the Limpopo leg of public hearings on Wednesday, 9 June 2021 at Moses Mabotha Civic Hall, in Feta Kgomo in the Tubatse Local Municipality, and will proceed to Mpumalanga.