Pigeons perch inside the Phoenix Sassa branch. A gaping hole in the roof has led to the birds entering the building. 
Pictures: Tumi Pakkies
Pigeons perch inside the Phoenix Sassa branch. A gaping hole in the roof has led to the birds entering the building. Pictures: Tumi Pakkies
A chair with pigeon droppings
A chair with pigeon droppings
Durban - Pigeons resting on fixtures, bird droppings on chairs and a large gaping hole in the roof were some of the problems found during an oversight visit conducted by the DA to the Phoenix South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) branch this week. 

On Tuesday, t he DA spokesperson on social development, MP Bridget Masango, DA North Durban constituency chairperson Rory Macpherson, and other DA public representatives visited the office.

Councillors pointed to a hole in the roof that was allowing pigeons to gain access and nest in the government office.

“We observed that the hygiene levels here are absolutely unacceptable. So you’ve got pigeons droppings all over the seats where frail senior citizens are expected to sit. The filth in the dustbins is at an unacceptable level. Right above us is a fan which will then disperse any further disease that might be carried around,” said Macpherson.


Speaking about the conditions at the office, one pensioner said: “Besides the pigeons, the toilets are very filthy.

“Some of them are not functioning, they seem to not be washed and there is a terrible stench,” he said.

Masango said the issue of dignity is “huge” for the Sassa beneficiaries who come to this branch.

She said people must be served in a dignified way when they go to government offices.

Macpherson emphasised that the people who go to the Sassa office were there because they couldn’t afford private hospitals or other amenities that other citizens had the resources to go to.

“One thing that we can walk out of here with is that somebody needs to be held accountable on just the day-to-day cleanliness of this facility,” Macpherson said.

Masango said the Phoenix branch did not have a manager and the person in charge had been acting manager since 2016.

“Why is there no permanent person? In a situation like Sassa you want to hold someone to account and if you are acting you cannot be held to account to a certain extent, “ she said.

Another issue that was raised was the fact that the Phoenix branch has had to accommodate the Verulam branch officials since 2016 which had a negative impact on Phoenix beneficiaries.

Ward 49 councillor Donovan Tino Pillay said the combining of the two branches was part of the reason there were difficulties in handling the numbers going to the Phoenix branch.

“That is why we have this stumbling block. We have got staff from Verulam housed here but also we have inherited all the residents from Verulam coming here to Phoenix as well. There’s a constant overflow,” Pillay said.

Sassa in KwaZulu-Natal had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publish. 

The Mercury