Aid has been given to needy elderly and disabled people sleeping outside the SA Social Security Agency Bellville offices, hoping to get seen to in the morning. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Aid has been given to needy elderly and disabled people sleeping outside the SA Social Security Agency Bellville offices, hoping to get seen to in the morning. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Food aid provided for the vulnerable queuing outside Sassa office

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Jan 20, 2021

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Cape Town - Aid has been given to needy elderly and disabled people sleeping outside the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) Bellville offices, hoping to get seen to in the morning.

Stay-overs continue outside the offices after thousands of temporary disability and child care dependency grants lapsed on January 1.

The SA Red Cross Society regional health and care manager, Marianna Nomdoe, said they and community-based organisations dispatched volunteers as of Monday night to feed those waiting at Sassa Bellville.

“We were informed late on Sunday that many of the people sleeping outside the offices were elderly and disabled. We’re a humanitarian relief organisation and as such it is our mandate to alleviate suffering. This being said, we immediately, with Western Cape Community Care and others, put a plan in motion to feed the vulnerable while they waited to be assisted by Sassa.”

Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez met with Sassa representatives yesterday (Mon) for Sassa to provide an update on their “10 Point-Plan” to address the lapsing of grants.

Around 53 000 temporary disability grants had lapsed in the province, leading to congested queues at many Sassa offices, potentially leading to an increase in Covid-19 infections among the province’s most vulnerable. A medical re-assessment is required for grant renewals.

Fernandez expressed concern over Sassa’s current operating model which cannot cope with the high volumes of beneficiaries that require medical assessments.

“Sadly, the plan does not address the immediate needs of many applicants, who desperately require emergency assistance such as food vouchers while waiting for their temporary disability grants to be assessed and their respective special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant applications to be completed.”

Sassa said applicants can apply for the Covid-19 special grant. If successful, they will receive a grant of R500 a month while waiting for their assessments to be completed.

“My immediate concern is that the SRD grant is a new process that requires an application form to be completed. It will take time to process these applications while thousands of vulnerable citizens will have to wait without any form of income,” said Fernandez.

The National Treasury has permitted Sassa to obtain around 500 additional doctors, to speed up medical assessments.

“This is an improvement from the situation last week, where they only had the services of nine additional doctors for the Western Cape.”

Premier Alan Winde has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to request his urgent intervention to ensure the extension of the temporary disability grants as well as to ask if he plans to extend the SRD grant beyond January 31.

“The scenes that have unfolded this past week outside Sassa offices in Cape Town are utterly unacceptable and deeply worrying. I am very concerned about the well-being of our province’s most vulnerable citizens who have to wait long hours in queues, risking their health in the hopes of getting some financial relief in order to provide for themselves and their families,” said Winde.

Cape Argus

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