Grants for orphans abused

June 25, 2015, 8:28am

Grants for orphans abused

By Theresia Tjihenuna

THE Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has recorded between 50 and 70 complaints of child social grant abuse by caregivers since January this year.
An administrative officer at the ministry, Amos Booi, said this abuse of social grants meant for vulnerable children sometimes causes misunderstanding and threats of violence between relatives.
Booi also said the ministry has been forced to look for other trustworthy family members who do not have drinking problems to receive the grants on behalf of the children.
The ministry takes care and protects orphans and vulnerable children under the age of 18 years by paying each child N$250 per month. Caregivers and guardians receive the money on behalf of the children to cover basic needs. 
Booi said most of the time the caregivers or guardians receive the money even when the children concerned are living with a grandparent or another caregiver. He said that instead of sending the money to the person responsible for the children, some caregivers spend it on themselves. 
Unfortunately, Booi said, many of those involved are getting away with it because they are not easily traceable. 
“Such cases are hard to investigate because most of the time people provide us with the wrong contact details or they have changed addresses without informing the ministry,” he claimed. 
He added that only a few of these individuals have been tracked down and forced to repay the money in monthly instalments. 
He further noted that many parents and guardians lie under oath about the status of the children in order to receive the grants, sometimes claiming that the fathers are “missing” or unemployed. 
“The majority of them claim they do not know where the fathers of the children are, which is a lie,” he said, adding that in some cases the ministry's staff is forced to request police intervention.
Former chairperson of the Standing Committee on Gender Equality and Family Affairs on Gender-Based Violence, Alexia Manombe-Ncube said a trip undertaken by the committee around the country confirmed that many social grants meant for orphans are being misused, while the beneficiaries live in poverty. 
“We made recommendations to the ministry to develop a strong monitoring mechanism,” said Manombe-Ncube, who is now deputy minister in the Presidency. Over the past three years, the ministry has placed 6 078 vulnerable children in the care of foster parents, while 521 933 children were registered and received orphans' grants countrywide. 
In her budget speech this year, the minister of gender and child welfare Doreen Sioka revealed that 170 816 children received grants during the 2014/2015 financial year, representing 85% of orphans that are covered under the programme. 
Sioka said an amount of about N$654 million has been allocated under this programme for the 2015/2016 financial year.

The Namibian