Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Friday conducted an oversight inspection at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) office in Roodepoort, Johannesburg following reports that qualifying social grants applicants were being turned away because Sassa employees refused to do biometric testing.
DA member of Parliament and shadow minister of social development Bridget Masango said: “We spoke to qualifying grants applicants who told us how frustrated they were with the lack of answers from Sassa and the challenges they face because of the problems with the biometric system.”
Several beneficiaries, including an elderly man and woman who qualified for disability grants, said they had been turned away and not received any grants as a result. Although new cards were issued at Roodepoort, some people have reportedly gone for months without having received any money.
According to Masango, there were very long queues at the office, the system to process applications was often offline and there was a lack of doctors to assess beneficiaries.
“It became evident from our discussions with Sassa employees at the office that the agency has not put any contingency plans in place to ensure that biometric testing would be done for new applications. This despite the fact that Sassa had been aware for some time that this function would need to be institutionalised,” she said.
She further added that Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) previously carried out biometric testing and identification for new applicants, a service which they were paid for.
“However, the CPS contract was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court and Sassa migrated to the South African Post Office (Sapo). Given this, Sassa employees were meant to carry out biometric testing.”
The agency was already facing massive backlogs in the capturing of biometric data.
“Social grants recipients are among the most vulnerable people in our society. Any delay in accessing grants could be the difference between vulnerable children and the elderly having food on the table or not,” said Masango, adding that the DA would continue to go to every corner of South Africa to expose how the failing ANC government mistreated vulnerable citizens.
“Our people deserve to have access to quality and dignified social services which the ANC government is incapable of providing,” she said.
African News Agency (ANA)