Platfontein, 15 May 2023: The Deputy Minister of Social Development, Mme Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, embarked on a significant visit to Platfontein and remote areas of the Francis Baard District in the Northern Cape Province to demonstrate the government's commitment of providing essential social development services to local families.
This visit, held in commemoration of the International Day of Families, shed light on the profound impact of demographic changes on families and highlighted the crucial role of government services in fostering their growth and wellbeing.
During her visit, the Deputy Minister had the privilege of engaging with the Xu! and Khwe tribes of the San Community. She attentively listened to their concerns and witnessed, firsthand, the positive influence of government services on the lives of those in need. This invaluable interaction reinforced the importance of continuous support and resources to nurture thriving families.
Speaking at the engagement, Chief K. Mokua of the Khwe Tribe extended a warm welcome to all dignitaries and community members commemorating the International Day of Families, stating: "On this day, let us be reminded to look after each other, for unity is the way forward in strengthening families."
The Department of Social Development emphasised that demographic trends - predominantly influenced by factors such as fertility, mortality, migration patterns and marriage, significantly shape the structure of families. As such, it becomes crucial to adapt government policies and services to effectively support families in an ever-evolving societal landscape.
The decline in fertility rates has empowered families to invest more in their children's education and healthcare which leads to poverty reduction and enhanced socio-economic development. Notably, the Child Support Grant (CSG) has played a pivotal role in this regard by providing substantial benefits beyond sustaining families.
Research indicates that recipients of the CSG, particularly children, are more likely to avoid risky behavior such as substance abuse and rather engage in healthier life choices.
Vanesia Van Wyk* (14 years old from Platfontein) said: “I am very angry. We do not receive the services we are supposed to receive. Our families continue to pay school fees even though we are poor. Where is the free education we were promised?” Martin Modise* (16 years old) added: “We do not have Identity Documents and certificates because it is difficult to get these services. The reason for school absenteeism is because parents are unemployed and cannot afford basic things such as winter uniform and food.”
In response, the Deputy Minister of Social Development said: “I hear the frustration expressed by the children of Platfontein and am committed to ensuring that they access the services that they are entitled to. It cannot be that we acknowledge that the Xu! and the Khwe tribes are the poorest of the poor but expect them to pay for school fees and uniform. The Department of Social Development and its entity SASSA will prioritise these children and ensure that they receive the necessary support and that their rights are respected.”
The Platfontein Xu! and Khwe tribes of the San Community, a marginalised group that has faced displacement, stand as a testament to the resilience of families amidst demographic change. “As we observe the International Day of Families under the theme; ‘Demographic Change and its Impact on Families,’ it is crucial to ensure that cultural preservation and family unity remain steadfast, even in the face of demographic transitions,” said Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu.
Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu emphasised the urgent need to address the issue of Platfontein children not being educated in their languages at school as this hinders their self-determination and inclusivity in their own community.
She called for the expedited recognition of the Xu! and Khwe chieftaincies to ensure their full integration into traditional house leadership.
This visit also showcased the collective efforts of various government entities in providing integrated support services. The collaboration between the Department of Social Development, Department of Home Affairs, Department of Health, South African Police Services, Department of Education, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, South African Human Rights, Northern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, and the National House of Khoisan leaders has proven instrumental in fortifying families and livelihoods.
*Not their real names*
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT