Grant beneficiaries needing to visit the Bellville Sassa offices complain about having to literally sleep in the queue overnight. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Grant beneficiaries needing to visit the Bellville Sassa offices complain about having to literally sleep in the queue overnight. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Long queues as desperate people still try to access Sassa’s Bellville office

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Jan 20, 2021

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Cape Town – Long queues with sick people, some on crutches, were still snaking round the SA Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) Bellville office yesterday.

Desperate grant beneficiaries, who feared being turned back, again converted cardboard into beds on Monday night, sleeping on the streets in the hope of being first in line yesterday.

The Bellville office is among Sassa contact points that have a high demand for services, exacerbated by lapsed disability grants.

Police called in last week to assist as the tension reached boiling point used a water cannon on people as they struggled to create physical distancing.

Western Cape Sassa spokesperson Shivani Wahab said services at the Bellville office had stabilised and appointments were in the process of being scheduled for every client who had to re-apply for a Disability Grant.

According to Wahab, out of a total of 53 000 lapsed Disability Grants, Sassa had managed to secure about 13 000 appointments for clients, across 16 offices in the province.

“Sassa management has recruited volunteers from the National Development Agency to assist with queue management and to ensure that social distancing is adhered to.

“Additional staff members have been recalled to support all operations at the Sassa Bellville office.

“Sassa has also sourced services of independent doctors to assist with medical assessments. We are working closely with the City to obtain access to facilities closer to communities,” she said.

Wahab said they had also not received any confirmation of deaths at the Bellville office, after SA Human Rights Commissioner Chris Nissen said he was probing such reports.

Meanwhile, Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said she met a Sassa delegation on Monday and expressed her concern over the current operating model that could not cope with the high volumes of beneficiaries who required assessments.

“Despite requesting a beefing-up of Sassa’s ‘10 Point-Plan’, there are still huge gaps in the existing plans which must be addressed urgently.”

She said the province was calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that Sassa has sufficient funds to cover the needs of the most vulnerable on the ground.

“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 SRD grant applications to be completed,” said Fernandez.

Fernandez also raised concern over the lack of planning and communication regarding the termination of the special Covid SRD R350 grants at the end the month.

“If not managed with absolute precision, I fear a reoccurrence of the events that unfolded last week.”

Cape Times

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