Sassa beneficiaries queue to collect their grants. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Sassa beneficiaries queue to collect their grants. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Shock over shebeen owners holding Sassa cards as surety for booze sold on credit

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Oct 24, 2019

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Cape Town - Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez says she is “deeply worried” by the phenomenon in the Western Cape where people cannot gain access to their social grant funds because their Sassa cards have been retained by shebeen owners for drinking on credit.

Speaking during the deliberation on the department’s annual report for 2018/19 in the provincial legislature, Fernandez said on her tours of the province since she became an MEC five months ago, she came across cases where a “grant card is retained by the shebeen owner so you can drink in advance and when your grant is paid, you are left with no money”.

“That is a very real social ill that requires a whole of society approach and not just the government, because you cannot drink your entire grant which is intended for children or whatever other purpose, because the shebeen holder has your grant card,” said the MEC.

Fernandez said: “My recent visits across the province have revealed the prevalence of shebeens in municipalities that are not governed in terms of local by-laws and cheap wine, papsak wine, is freely available 24/7.”

“It is something that’s deeply worrying and I think when we engage our mayors at the Western Cape Minister and Mayoral Forum, it needs to be flagged and put on the table,” said Fernandez.

During the 2018/19 financial year, the department funded bursaries for 64 students to be trained in the specialist field of substance abuse services at UWC, UCT and Stellenbosch University.

It obtained a clean audit for the seventh consecutive year. Fernandez said: “We are mindful that the social workers, child and youth care workers, community developers and departmental officials are under great pressure to serve a rapidly growing population amid economic constraints, poverty, unemployment and crime.

“It’s testament to the collective efforts of these professionals that the department has performed as well as it has under these circumstances.”

Notable achievements in the annual report included that the department funds six NGO-run inpatient substance abuse treatment facilities, 13 community-based treatment NGOs which render treatment across 30 sites, 21 which render early intervention services from 29 sites and 10 which render after-care services across 16 sites.

NGOs that are funded by the department rendered trauma counselling and psycho-social support to 20830 clients.

This is up by 14970 since the 2011/12 financial year.


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Cape Argus

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