Sassa slammed for 'mishandling' disability grants, increasing risk of Covid-19
Cape Town - Several organisations have slammed the Department of Social Development and the SA Social Services Agency (Sassa) for the “mishandling” of temporary disability grants, leaving thousands in overcrowded queues outside Sassa offices – a potential hotbed for Covid-19 infections among the country’s most vulnerable.
Hundreds of elderly people and those with disabilities could be seen preparing to spend the night outside Sassa offices in Gugulethu in the hopes that they’d get seen to in the morning.
EFF provincial secretary Banzi Dambuza said people were queuing and sleeping outside Sassa offices in Gugulethu since Sunday.
“They can’t comply with the 9pm curfew because they fear losing their position in the line. This office covers Gugulethu, Nyanga, Philippi, Samora, New Cross Roads, Old Cross Roads and Lower Cross Roads.
“We are going to be looking into the matter and will aid our people at all cost.”
The DA requested that the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, be brought before Parliament to account for her “mishandling of the temporary disability grant crisis”.
Sassa suspended more than 200 000 temporary disability grants and care dependency grants across the country at the end of December, 2020.
Last year, all temporary disability grants which had expired or should have expired between February and December 2020 were extended.
Nationwide, around 214 473 temporary grant holders were affected.
Temporary disability grant holders must now be medically assessed in order for a renewal.
A medical assessment is a prerequisite for any disability grant application. The DA said Zulu should step down should she not act immediately to address the backlog.
Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said she would be writing to Sassa to give the standing committee an urgent update on the applications in the Western Cape that have lapsed.
Around 52 000 disability grants lapsed in the province.
“I will also be requesting a brief on which measures the agency has in place at the Sassa offices in the province to ensure adherence to Covid-19 protocols and limit the spread of the virus.”
Sassa grants administration executive manager Dianne Dunkerley said, Sassa has contracted medical officers to assist with the assessments required.
“In many of our local offices, where we have adequate space and ventilation, we have established assessment venues, where our contracted doctors complete the assessments – all this has been done in order to try and ensure that we can provide the services under abnormal conditions.”