SASSA fails to pay grants on time in Gugulethu and Mitchell’s Plain

| Pharie Sefali
Grant beneficiaries are struggling because of late payments by SASSA. Photo by Pharie Sefali.

There is a large backlog in social grant payments at South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) branches in Gugulethu and Mitchell’s Plain. Beneficiaries who have not received their grants in months are accusing the state agency of incompetence.

Anthea Qonga, a 45 year old women from Nyanga who is not able to work due to sickness, was told by officials at the SASSA Mitchell’s Plain branch that her grant money was frozen due to a senior manager not being able to release it because he was on holiday.

Qonga told GroundUp that she successfully applied for her grant last year in July but was told to wait for 90 days to process the money.

Qonga explained that she was supposed to get her money at the end of October last year (after the 90 day period). “I kept on visiting the SASSA offices in Mitchell’s Plain and the official kept on telling me that the senior manager was not available or he was on holiday.”

“I am a sick person. I can’t work and I am supposed to take medication everyday. Now it’s hard because I do not have food. I spend most of my money travelling to the SASSA offices to inquire but they always turn me away or say the managers are not available to assist me.”

An official told Qonga that she cannot assist her because the person who is meant to sign off her money will only be available in the second week of February and Qonga should came then for more information.

An official told Qonga that she cannot assist her because the person who is meant to sign off her money will only be available in the second week of February.

This journalist visited SASSA offices in Mitchells Plain with Qonga. I asked to see a manager to ask why Qonga’s grant was not available to her after four months.

Goolam Hassan, an operations manager at the office, said that they could not assist Qonga because there are many people who face the same challenges as her.

“We are experiencing a backlog so there is no guarantee when you can get the money”, he said.

Qonga is unimpressed. “I do not understand. I’ve been coming to these offices for months and still they tell me that there is no guarantee. I believe this is illegal and there is some kind of fraud. Throughout the festive I did not have money nor food and again they expect me to wait. SASSA is incompetent.”

Puleng Nyalo, who is 59 years old, complained that similar problems are occurring at SASSA’s Gugulethu branch.

Nyalo said that she suspects that SASSA officials took her money and now they want her to register again this year without receiving her grants from last year.

“Last year November I went to take my money as normal using my SASSA card. When I got to the machine I got a receipt saying that my money has been withdrawn already but on the machine it says the money was available,” she says.

Since November Nyalo has not received any money from SASSA. She said that every time she visited their offices in Gugulethu, she is told that they can’t assist her because it’s not clear what happened to her money, including the December and January grants.

Nyalo last visited the SASSA office in Gugulethu two weeks ago. She was told to register again for a grant but nothing was said about whether or not her grant of three months that she believes is owed to her will be paid.

“I was just told that I should register and come back in the first week of February for my application status,” she says.

“Every week I walk from Nyanga to Gugulethu to inquire and I always get the same answer, that they do not know what happened and they are investigating. Even my doctor wrote a letter to the SASSA officials to ask what happened to my grant but there was no response from SASSA. We are told to eat healthily due to our sickness but how are we going to do that if we do not have money?”

Nyalo said that since last year she has been asking her neighbours for food so that she can eat but now she is embarrassed to ask because she can see people are tired of providing her with food all the time.

Shivani Wahab is a provincial communications manager for SASSA. She admitted that there is a backlog of 3,100 cases in Gugulethu. “A team has been deployed to assist with this and the matter will be resolved by next week.” However, she said SASSA is not aware of a backlog in Mitchell’s Plain.

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

I am Mrs Shoerya Jacobs. i have applied in March this year for child grant.

Every time i go to the office to find out how far is this process. Quote" still under investigation" ... i dont have money to travel up and down to the office.

I phoned the office since Friday 20th May 2016 and this morning no one is picking up or someone is putting down the phone.

Please i need your assistance.

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