12 May 2020
On Sunday night, residents of Khayelitsha in Cape Town slept outside the offices of the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) which were reopened on Monday after a six-week closure.
All those who spent the night on the pavement were assisted and given appointments for Friday, said SASSA spokesperson Shivani Wahab.
Nokwanela Vamela, 66, was there because his pension payments had stopped and he wanted to know why. “It is better to sleep here than coming in the morning. Everyone has been waiting for the offices to open and we have a lot of problems’, said Vamela. He said people had brought blankets and mattresses to prepare for the cold night on the concrete. “We slept on the concrete so that we get assisted first when they open the offices.”
Nosibusiso Mdlankomo came to find out why her child’s grant had no been paid last month. She has been depending on her neighbours for help. “I can’t keep on asking food from other people because everyone is struggling, the lockdown has affected everyone, that’s why I decided to come and sleep here thinking that I will get in first”.
“But the queue is long, I don’t know if I am going to get a chance to get in,” said Mdlankomo.
Nomalungisa Duka said she was there to submit documents from the doctor confirming her disability.
Lindekile Mbita spent the night outside thinking that he would get assisted first. “But now it is 12:30, and I haven’t been assisted. This is frustrating, but we do not have any other choice but to wait”.
The offices had been closed since 26 March. Wahab said in line with the directive on the easing of Lockdown Regulations to Level 4, a phased-in approach to opening the office had been adopted and staff were working on a rotational basis.
Wahab said SASSA was dealing with applications for different grants on different days to avoid a high influx of clients at any contact point. “Monday and Tuesdays will be Old Age Grant applications, Wednesday Child Support Grant, and on Friday it will be Disability Grant applications on an appointment basis”.
In cases where a temporary disability grant is suspended, Wahab said the grant would be reinstated and paid till October 2020. “The same applies to Care Dependency and Foster Child Grants that are due to lapse during the lockdown. The reinstated social grants will be paid before the end of May 2020.”
“Clients who slept over outside the Khayelitsha Local Office were all assisted and provided with appointments for Friday, 15 May 2020. These clients were advised on the peril of sleeping over at any contact point for services,” said Wahab.