Defend the Social Work Profession CampaignI, Itumeleng Lecheko, am a social worker employed by the Free State Department of Social Development and was suspended by the Head of the Department after writing a letter to the Premier of the Free State Government. In the letter which we are suspended for, we requested the Premier to intervene on behalf of the poor and vulnerable clients of the department. This we did after the HOD and the Acting District Director of Mangaung Metropolitan District made a decision to relocate Sub-district service offices to the Tshireletsong Child and Youth Care Facility located in Bochabela.
We cited that the HOD and the Acting District Director failed to make the decision based on policy directives of the department and government. According to the Batho Pele Principles, the public ought to be consulted on any matter which affects service delivery. Also, the department has to implement the principle of courtesy by putting the interest of the public first by restoring services to the Thusanong Building which housed both Social services and SASSA. In other words, the majority of clients would pay R30.00 to access services as opposed to R60.00 if services are transferred to the Tshireletsong CYCC. Furthermore, Thusanong Building promotes the delivery of dignified services. Clients will be able to receive services in offices which promote privacy and confidentiality.
The Premier, however, has decided not to involve himself in the matter. In fact, he has referred the matter back to the same persons who have failed to consider departmental policies as it pertains to dealing with the poor. This means both poor and ourselves are left stranded and defenseless.
First of all, the public must know that the social work profession was founded to help the poor. The profession is the "voice of the voiceless." It is, therefore, not wrong for a Social worker to advocate for the poor. In fact, the SACSSP Code of Conduct states that social workers must challenge injustice on behalf of the poor, irrespective who is oppressor. The Public Service Code of Conduct also states that the public interests must always be considered first before any other consideration. We request donations from social workers across the country and members of the public so that the interests of the public can be protected and promoted.
We know that the suspension were orchestrated to intimidate social workers and any other official in the department. We also know that we have been suspended so as to quieten the voices of dissent. If we fail to act now and make enough noise, the public will be disadvantaged and the profession would lose its credibility as an advocate of the poor.
The funds we require will assist us to do the following:
1. To approach the High Court and request it to set aside the the decision of the HOD to suspended us and to declare the decision irrational and unlawful;
2. To request the High Court to set aside the decision and/or intention to relocate sub-district social services to Tshireletsong CYCC as it is not in the best interest of the public;
3. To interdict the Premier of the Free State, HOD of the Department of Social Development and the MEC of Public Works and Infrastructure from placing any government department at Thusanong Building until the public has been consulted;
4. To travel to the Ministry of Social Development and to bring the Ministry and the Acting Director General on the matter;
5. To travel around Bloemfontein communities so that communities can be empowered with knowledge regarding their Constitutional right to equitable access to services.