The Western Cape government has published their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pertaining to the operation of certain services during the lockdown period as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To prevent the spread of fake news, and to get an answer to a question that may have been on your mind, here are the Cape government’s official answers.

Will Department of Social Development (DSD) offices remain open?

DSD local and regional offices will remain open, operating with reduced staff. Face to face contact will be limited, and the public are urged to phone with non-urgent or non-statutory queries.

What happens in the case of statutory services?

Statutory services, including child protection and probation matters, victim empowerment services, people with disabilities and older people at high risk, will continue. Should members of the public suspect cases of abuse, it must be reported to the police, the nearest local office, or via the 0800 220 250 number.

Services to victims of crime and violence?

Rendering services to  victims of  crime and violence is an essential service, thus the Western Cape Department of Social Development and civil society organisations will continue to provide services to victims of crime and violence through provision of shelter services and psychosocial support.

  • 4 shelters have been identified as Stage 1 shelters to admit at risk victims of crime and violence.
  • Only referrals from a social worker with safety risk assessment and SAPS referral will be accepted.
  • After the initial 14 days, clients will be transferred from Stage 1 shelter to a Stage 2 shelter with the assistance of SAPS.

Stage 2 Shelter accommodation

  1. After the initial 14 days, clients will be transferred to the Stage 2 shelter.
  2. Stage 2 shelters may not admit new intakes directly except new clients who are referred by Stage 1 shelters and have completed their 14-day stay.
  3. Department of Health to assist with medical screening and medical needs of clients.

Funded Social Service organisations

  1. All social workers of funded social service organisations to be on stand-by to provide psycho-social support services to victims of crime and violence.
  2. Psychosocial support at Thuthuzela Care Centres are to continue.


Who will be distributing food?

According to the Social Assistance Act, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is the lead agency charged with social support to the poor.

Independently of government efforts, a number of NGOs, community soup kitchens, religious organisations and private companies are providing food to vulnerable communities.

Western Cape DSD will provide a limited number of food parcels to beneficiaries who meet the criteria.

What is the Western Cape Department of Social Development’s role?

Emergency funding was made available as a result of the lockdown, for a limited number of food parcels to those who meet certain criteria.

Who qualifies for food parcels distributed by DSD and its funded partners?

  • Households affected by COVID-19 infections in the following instances:
    • A member/s of the family who tested positive for the virus and are in quarantine in their homes.
    • A household where a member of the family who tested positive for the virus and who have insufficient means to sustain themselves during the lockdown period.
  • A person who is on medication or who suffers from a chronic illness and have insufficient means to sustain themselves, and was assessed and referred by a local clinic or registered health practitioner.
  • A person and their household who have insufficient means to sustain themselves during the lockdown period who was assessed and referred by a registered humanitarian relief agency, DSD, registered NPO or municipal manager. In this instance, the elderly, child headed houses, grant awaiting beneficiaries will be prioritised.

What is the process?

Requests sent via the call centre, municipal manager, humanitarian relief agency, or registered NPO are routed to DSD social workers.

Social workers then conduct a telephonic assessment with each individual applicant, and screens the person’s ID against SASSA’s database to check whether the person is an existing grant or food recipient from SASSA.

Once a prospective beneficiary is confirmed as meeting the criteria, they are then contacted by the Department, and given details of when delivery will take place.

How do we channel requests for assistance with families in need of food?

Members of the public can phone 0800 220 250, send a Please Call Me to 079 769 1207, or email [email protected]. These queries will then be routed to the relevant departmental officials for screening against the criteria.


Are children allowed to travel between their parents’ homes if there is a dual custody arrangement in place?

The National DSD Minister has issued an update, allowing the movement of children between co-parents, where a court order for the move has already been granted, as well as parenting plans and agreements registered with the family advocate.


Are shelters for homeless people still operational?

These shelters are still operational, and the Department of Social Development is communicating with the various facilities around proper hygiene and infectious disease protocols. Shelters for the homeless are not 24hr residential facilities. Instead, they provide a sleepover facility and supper. Homeless people will be referred to Health facilities if needed.


What happens to the homeless communities not in shelters?

Most support for the homeless is coordinated by our municipalities. Although providing support for the homeless is not a direct competency of the provincial Department of Social Development, we remain committed to providing assistance where municipalities request it.


Which ECDs and Partial Care Centres need to close?

The National Department of Social Development has ordered the compulsory closure of all ECDs and partial care centres effective Wednesday, March 18 until April 17.

What about children who rely on meals at ECDs?

DSD-funded ECDs have been asked to reopen their kitchens so that feeding the enrolled children can still take place. Principals will inform parents when to collect the food, and this will be done in a staggered approach. Only the kitchens will be open. This does not apply to any other normal activities at ECDs.

What about young children who are unsupervised if their parents are still working during the lockdown?

Parents must take the primary responsibility, but we appeal to families and communities to support each other and the Department’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Where young children are left unsupervised, and are in danger, the matters must be referred to the closest DSD offices or designated child protection organisations.

Must parents still pay fees to ECD and partial care centres?

ECDs and Partial Care Centres are autonomous bodies, and these decisions are made by their management committees or boards.


Are there plans in place for old age homes?

As a condition of registration, all old age homes, run by NPO partners, must have an infectious disease control policy, as well as a disaster management plan in place. These will have been submitted to DSD to comply with Norms and Standards, and have been monitored by the Department.

What about visits?

Visits to residents in homes be prohibited for 30 days, as the residents are a vulnerable group.

How can families stay in touch with the residents?

Family members and friends are advised to contact their loved ones telephonically until further notice.

What measures can be taken to safeguard residents in the facilities?

Facilities are required to increase the frequency of their hygiene and disinfection routines.

Are the residential facilities aware of the developments?

The Department of Social Development is communicating with funded and unfunded facilities, explaining all of the latest developments.


Will residential facilities remain operational?

Yes, these are defined as essential services.

How can the spread be limited in residential facilities?

Residents in these facilities will not receive visitors for 30 days. New clients/ residents at these facilities to be separated from the rest until tests are conducted. These measures are applicable in both private and public facilities. Residents and staff are being educated about hygiene routines.

Community Nutritional Development Centres and Drop-in Centres

Will these services still be available?

All existing beneficiaries will still receive these services. Beneficiaries will be broken up into smaller groups, and advised about social distancing. In some cases, food may be distributed to households by care workers.

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