Sassa grilled over low numbers assessed for disability, care grants
Cape Town - The provincial legislature’s standing committee has expressed concern that only 509 SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) beneficiaries of the 52 000 people they are targeting have been assessed to date.
The Western Cape was the most affected when the Department of Social Development last month suspended the temporary disability and care dependency grant affecting about 53 000 people who depended on it.
This resulted in the vulnerable standing in chaotic long queues, some sleeping outside Sassa offices to be first on line the next day as many were being turned back.
A blame-game ensued between Sassa and City officials about the availability of halls and other facilities to alleviate pressure from all affected Sassa offices including Bellville, and Gugulethu.
Briefing the Standing Committee on Social Development on Thursday Sassa regional executive manager Bandile Maqetuka said progress was being made to address all challenges.
According to Maqetuka they were targeting to assess about 52 323 beneficiaries by end March, as to date 11744 appointments were booked for clients and 509 people had been assessed.
“We were utilising less doctors but managed to source more doctors to assist with medical assessments. We have contacted 582 doctors and managed to get about 33 but this number has since increased to 40 after signing seven more. Some are still in the process of being contracted and we are expecting that most of them will be deployed in the Cape metropolitan area due to the pressure at the offices,” said Maqetuka.
He said additional funding has been secured for the sourcing of doctors, use of community halls and 11 have been availed to date and to buy chairs to prevent people from standing in the queues.
Maqetuka said Sassa has been communicating with affected people including via letters.
The standing committee members criticised some of Sassa's management plan and interventions claiming they were not realistic.
Wendy Philander said as someone who visited Sassa offices last week Maqetuka’s Sassa presentation was not speaking to what was happening on the ground.
“I don’t understand how the mass communication has been rolled out to the affected people especially those from rural areas. If people had received the necessary knowledge or information I doubt they would have risked their lives and flock to those offices.
”Also some beneficiaries went to the offices and received an appointment date which they must go back to. No forms were offered or R500 offered. These are people left without money. No contingency plans are in place. It will be a concern if this presentation is just to mislead us.”
Ntombezanele Bakubaku said she was disappointed by the lack of communication from the city officials and Sassa to work together.