Families suffer as no access to IDs make them unable to secure grants
Cape Town - Sikelelwa Tomase, a Khayelitsha mother of two young children, has once again been left financially destitute after she could not secure a letter from Home Affairs that Sassa demanded to process her application for a child support grant.
Tomase said she was told in 2018 that she could not apply for the grant as she did not possess an ID and had to first apply for one.
She has yet to be granted an ID, despite the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) sending an official to accompany her to Home Affairs offices in Khayelitsha to verify information she had submitted in support of the application.
“In December, I was told to get a letter from the Home Affairs office detailing the status of my application.
“I was told that the person responsible was on leave and I would be contacted later. To date I have not been contacted.
“I am still unable to register my children, aged 6 and 8, at a school, because they do not have birth certificates.
“I would have used the social grant to send them to school,” said Tomase
She received the grant for three months last year – from October to December – after the intervention for Children’s Institute and the Legal Resources Centre.
But last month the grant was stopped.
The organisations say even in cases where the proof of birth registration application was provided to Sassa, some grants were being terminated after three months, forcing the caregiver to reapply.
The Children’s Institute and the Legal Resources Centre say the system should place the burden on Home Affairs and Social Development to prioritise processing the children’s birth certificates.
A senior legal researcher at the institute, Paula Proudlock, said the organisation had brought the problem to Sassa’s attention for more than two years now.
“We don’t want to have to take the matter to court, but will take that route if it is needed for the best interests of our clients,” Proudlock said.
After pressure from the organisations, Sassa reinstated the child support grants this month for thousands of children following their termination at the end of December.
The reinstatement was backdated to January and would be valid for the duration of the state of disaster.
Proudlock said the child support grant was the only means of survival for many.
“These are grannies caring for orphaned or abandoned children, mothers without their own IDs and birth certificates, and unmarried fathers caring for children whose mothers have died or disappeared.
“These are the very children the Department of Social Development is meant to be providing additional support to, but they are instead taking away their social grants – literally their only means of survival,” Proudlock said.
After an intervention by the Children’s Institute once again, Sassa agreed that Tomase would get paid on March 5 for her two daughters.
However, Tomase’s battle to get an ID, since 2016, was far from over.
According to Sassa, there were as many as 16 000 children without birth certificates receiving the grant in October.
“This constant termination of the grant is unlawful as it is not authorised by the Social Assistance Act or its regulation.
“However, since 2009, Sassa has been imposing a three-month restriction on the receipt of the grants by children without birth certificates, during which an application for birth registration must be lodged with Home Affairs.
“If a caregiver fails to provide a birth certificate or proof of a birth certificate application having been lodged, Sassa terminates the grant after three months,” the Children’s Institute said.
Sisanda Nkondlo, said her children’s grants were terminated in December and after numerous enquiries and visits to the Sassa offices, she was only told this week that she needed to re-apply.