Zulu says she 'never instructed the police' to spray water on Sassa grant recipients
Cape Town - Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says she did not instruct police to use water cannon on the elderly and people with disabilities queuing outside the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) offices in Bellville, as an investigation into the matter continues.
The incident, which is under police investigation, occurred on January 15, during Zulu’s two-day visit to Cape Town to assess several Sassa offices.
Her visit was a result of the lapsing of thousands of temporary disability grants and child-dependency grants, which was causing long congested queues and stay overs outside Sassa offices, with minimal if any, adherence to Covid-19 protocols.
As of January 1, around 53 000 temporary disability grants (TDG) had lapsed in the province. People were seen queuing, in a bid to have their TDG renewed and for other queries.
In a video that had garnered outrage, Zulu could be seen inside a police Casspir, using the loudhailer in an attempt to urge those queuing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols. Zulu said media reports on the incident had been misleading, claiming she had taken shelter in the vehicle.
“Once again, I would like to put it on record that I never instructed members of the police to use spray water on the poor and vulnerable South Africans who were queuing outside Bellville Sassa offices,” Zulu said.
“As the minister of social development, I fully understand that social grants have been and continue to be a cushion for the most vulnerable in these difficult and unprecedented times. My visit to Bellville Sassa office was to address the issue of long queues and to ensure our people receive the much-needed services, in a manner that uphold their human dignity.
“The allegations that I instructed police to use water cannon on the very same people I went to assist are not only false and misleading, but also designed to cast aspersions on my character and the organisation which I represent.”
Eerste River residents could be seen sleeping outside Sassa offices on Monday night. Western Cape Community Care chairperson Nicky Booysen, who delivered food to those in the queue, said people in wheelchairs could be seen in the cold, staying over.
“There was a lady sitting in a wheelchair and she said her disability grant stopped in December, so she has no choice but to reapply, even if it meant sleeping in front of the Sassa building. They had nothing for Christmas and, in general, she just felt like giving up if it weren’t for her grandchildren who she is supporting as the mother is on drugs and the father has never been a part of their lives.
“This is such a common story where the grandparents are always the caregivers and the entire family survives on either the disability grant or pension.”