News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

Teenage mothers abuse state child grant

Organisations working with women and children say teenage mothers are using state child grants to buy alcohol and clothing, often placing the burden of caring for their children on grandparents when the money runs out. Approximately 8,5 million children benefit from the Child Support Grant (CSG) of R210 per child per month, according to the social development department.

Nomsa Ntlabati, a counselor at Ilitha Labantu, an NGO focusing on violence against women and children, said there had been a “dramatic” increase in young mothers misusing the child support grant (CSG), sometimes known as “womb fee” in the townships.

Ntlabati said the phenomenon was driven by poverty and because the mothers wanted a “good life”.
She said it was mainly grandparents who ended up having to carry the burden of caring for their grandchildren. About 35-40 incidents were reported by elderly women every month at Ilitha, which is situated in Gugulethu.  Ntlabati said “lazy” young mothers often went on drinking sprees, bought clothing and gambled with the money.

Khethile Kubheka, a coordinator at Pretoria’s Heartbeat Centre, an organisation assisting abused children, said social workers had “rescued” a number of township children who had been neglected by their young mothers.

Although the mothers had collected grants, the children suffered from malnutrition and did not go to school. Their parents had taken the grants and left them with their grandparents.

Kubheka said the increase in grants led to an increase in pregnancy and increased risk of HIV/AIDS.
“They have to stop this insanity and get jobs,”she said.

Nombulelo Tshandi, 57, from Gugulethu, said her daughter, 26, had been spending the CSG on drinking sprees and cosmetics, leaving her to take care of her five-year-old grandson.

She said she had reported the matter to social workers and since last year had been able to claim the the CSG instead of her daughter.

However, Nareen Ramsden, spokesperson for the Children’s Rights Centre in Durban, said there was a minority of mothers abusing the system. She said some young mothers used the CSG to go back to school.

Ramsden said “selfish” girls were tempted to purchase material items, but society was to blame for putting pressure on young mothers. She said people “demonized and pointed fingers” at young mothers, forgetting they were typical teenagers who made mistakes like any other child.

Figures provided by the department indicated that in efforts to root out corruption and fraud, 333,233 grants had been removed from the system with a value of over R1-billion. However, this figure included all grants and the department was unable to say how many of these related to the CSG.

Thabo Rakoloti, chief director of social assistance in the department of social development, said there was no hard evidence to indicate that grants were being misused. But he said if anyone was found to be misusing the CSG the grant could be administered by a new primary care giver.

Rakoloti said a recent study commissioned by the department had indicated that the CSG was associated with increased school attendance, decreased child hunger, and increased labour force participation.
He said the social pension system showed that there was a relatively low take-up rate for the CSG from age 0-1 year and this suggested that it was problematic to assume that grants in general created “perverse incentives”.

* Reporting by Brenda Nkuna. Published in the Cape Argus, September 29, 2008 and Daily Sun, September 30, 2008.

Tags: grants social welfare children

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One Response to “Teenage mothers abuse state child grant”

  1. linda fortune says:

    Where does one apply for a child grant? When are you able to apply for a child grant? What are the implications if you receive a child grant, but the mother is employed and earning a salary? Please send me details of who i may contact in regard with some other queries relating to child grants.
    Regards, Linda Fortune

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