Pensioner struggles to get help from Sassa after her home was damaged in a fire

By Nicola Daniels Time of article published Sep 17, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Sixty -three-year-old grandmother Magdalene Booysen, from Manenberg, has been struggling to get a R1 700 social relief of distress benefit grant from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) for almost two years, since her council flat was damaged in a fire, in January last year.

The City is currently fixing the home, but Booysen said she has nothing, and desperately needs the R1 700 as a start to rebuild her life.

“The day of the fire was the most devastating day of my life. I lost everything and it has been hard for me, living off other people. I am glad my place is finally almost done because I can finally build up my own life again, but where do I start when I was left with nothing? I am a pensioner, with no money lying around. I’ve been going up and down to Sassa, since the end of January last year. All they keep telling me is that the social relief of distress benefit grant has been suspended because of the R350 grant, so I have to come back,” she said.

On initial enquiries to Sassa, her application for social relief did not come up on their systems linked to her ID number.

Sassa spokesperson Shivani Wahab said: “Sassa records indicate that the client is currently in receipt of an Older Persons Grant. With regard to any relief intervention, Sassa is dependent on the City for detailed information. Once this is provided, Sassa activates humanitarian relief. If the client has the incident report from the City, she may contact Sassa immediately for assistance. Sassa will then activate a once-off cash payment, in respect of social relief of distress.”

Once the proof of application, along with the incident report from the City was provided, Wahab said she would forward the documents to the necessary department, but she could not respond to further queries as she would be in meetings.

The City, meanwhile, said Booysen’s home would be ready to move into soon.

“The required work to Ms Booysen’s home will be completed as soon as possible. We thank our residents for their patience. The City’s Public Housing Department is currently experiencing severe repair work backlogs, primarily due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis,” said mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi.

He said, so far, more than 104 repair service requests to units have been completed, and more than 200 repair and maintenance service requests are currently in progress.

Those who require assistance in this regard, can call Sassa’s customer care on 021 469 0235 or 0800 60 10 11.

Booysen is appealing for donations, of any furniture or appliances, and can be contacted on 083 656 8749.

Cape Times

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