Desperate people in queues outside Sassa offices in Khayelitsha in Cape Town last month. File photo: ANA/Phando Jikelo
Desperate people in queues outside Sassa offices in Khayelitsha in Cape Town last month. File photo: ANA/Phando Jikelo

DA to report Sassa to Human Rights Commission over social grants payment 'ineptitude'

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Jun 4, 2020

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Pretoria – The DA said on Thursday said it will file a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and its chief executive Busisiwe Memela-Khambula regarding the state agency’s “abhorrent treatment” of those in its care, especially the elderly and disabled.

“Sassa has been bogged down by ineptitude since its inception and the Covid-19 lockdown period has turned the spotlight on its many failings and seeming unwillingness to take the necessary steps to ensure that its beneficiaries are taken care of. 

"Since the very start of the lockdown, the DA has called on Sassa to fully capacitate its offices in accordance with Covid-19 health and social distancing protocols to assist grant recipients with payment, complaints, queries and registrations. This has time and again fallen on deaf ears,” said Bridget Masango, the DA’s spokesperson on social development.

“Instead of doing the logical and humane thing to assist vulnerable South Africans, Sassa has decided to reopen offices with only 30% of its staff at work and promised to train volunteers to assist people wanting to apply for the special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant of R350. 

"The Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, has been saying she wants people to have dignity. There is no dignity in people sleeping outside and waiting forever for the special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant.”

Masango said Sassa’s incompetence has led to desperate elderly people sleeping and queueing in the cold outside the agency’s offices for days at a time in an urgent bid to receive their grants. She said many people had to return home empty-handed, without any means to care for their families the following month.

“In addition to the inhumane treatment of the vulnerable and elderly, Sassa is now hiding behind technical glitches and empty promises regarding the payment of the R350 special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant. 

"They are grandstanding on the mere 2% of special grant recipients that received payment. This is nothing to brag about, in fact, it only serves as a reminder of their failures,” said Masango.

“Thousands of South Africans who are in desperate need for financial assistance have been left in the lurch because of Sassa’s inability to release relevant, timely information about when the rest of the successful applicants will receive the grant money. 

"Nor have they given any indication of when all their highly trained staff will be back at work to help desperate South Africans. They have also been mute on the number of promised volunteers trained to assist people trying to apply for the special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant.”

She said South Africans have not received an apology from Sassa for the “grief and disruption” caused to millions of people every month.

Last month, system glitches at Sassa pay points hit thousands of the elderly and disabled across the country as they stood for hours in long queues to collect their grants on Monday.

In the Western Cape, 435 004 beneficiaries received duplicate payments because of a technical error, while in Durban hundreds of pensioners returned home empty-handed following a “shortage of funds and payment glitches” at several pay points.

African News Agency (ANA) 

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