Ricochet News

'Uncaring Sassa a nightmare for the poor in Uitenhage and surrounds'

Jul 6, 2018
'Uncaring Sassa a nightmare for the poor in Uitenhage and surrounds'

Waiting in long queues for hours on end and spending hundreds of rands on travel to the Uitenhage branch of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) are some of the daily struggles the poor of Nelson Mandela Bay have to deal with and the Democratic Alliance (DA) says it wants the situation fixed.

On Thursday, Kobus Botha MPL - DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Social Development, did an oversight inspection at this branch and encountered about 250 people waiting to be served.

"Many of these people waited in line since before 06:00," he described.

"Some have to return up to three days in a row, at a costs  of almost R100 in taxi fare.

"Thembisa Tyatya from KwNobuhle told me she arrived at the branch at 04:30 and that a queue had already formed. She needs to submit her personal documentation for her child grant to be transferred into a bank account."

He said that, according to a local resident, Anelisa Xanise, her return trip from KwaNobuhle cost her R24.

"It was her second day in the queue where she is trying to submit documentation for her mother’s old age grant.

"A shortage of staff and bad planning are the main reasons for the difficulties this branch is experiencing in processing thousands of social grants recipient information. This information must be processed in order for them to be issued with new grant cards and direct bank transfers," Botha said.

"The branch manager informed me that he has a staff complement of 21 people and that they have to assist an average of 250 people per week with processing information.  This is over and above the between 100 and 130 people per day seeking help with various other social assistance programmes.

"I previously inspected this office on 8 June 2018."

Botha said that a shortage of staff, overcrowding and lack of seating were some of the things he encountered.

"I am sad to say the situation remains unchanged.

"According to the branch manager the only assistance received from the Department of Social Development (DSD) was the contracting of 10 officials from the South African Post Office. The office serves the surrounding areas of Amanzi, Despatch,  Khayamnandi, KwaNobuhle, Kruisrivier and Rocklands. People also travel from Port Elizabeth to be assisted in Uitenhage," he added.

"I will write to Bridget Masango DA-MP (Shadow Minister for Social Development), to assist me to establish from the DSD why there was no response after my previous call for assistance and additional staff."

Cabinet apologises for delays in social grant payments

Meanwhile, Cabinet on Thursday expressed a sincere apology to beneficiaries of social grants affected by the delays in the current social grant payment cycle.

“Cabinet appreciates that social grants are a lifeline to the most vulnerable members of our society and therefore such inconvenience is very much regrettable,” Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said during a post Cabinet media briefing held in Tshwane.

Mokonyane said that Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu has assured Cabinet that the technical glitches were a result of the transition of the payments from an old system to a new South African Social Security Agency/South African Post Office system.

“She [Shabangu] has assured Cabinet that most of the affected beneficiaries have since been paid. Meanwhile, dedicated teams are working hard to stabilise the systems to prevent a recurrence of such delays in the future.”

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and South African Post Office (SAPO) are currently facilitating a card swap from the old SASSA/Grindrod cards to the new SASSA/SAPO by end of August 2018.

The changing of cards are currently taking place at identified venues, including pay point stations, community halls and SAPO branches.

SASSA is also in the process of phasing out Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), as directed by the Constitutional Court and introducing the South African Post Office (SAPO) to pay social grants.

The changing of cards are currently taking place at identified venues, including pay point stations, community halls and SAPO branches.