Social grant recipients sent home empty-handed

Systems are down, Pietermaritzburg beneficiaries told

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Photo of government office
South African Social Security Agency offices in Pietermaritzburg, where beneficiaries have been told the computer system is down. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

Social grant beneficiaries in Pietermaritzburg say they did not get their November grants last week because of a breakdown in the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) computer system.

Beneficiaries say that when they went to collect their grants last week on Tuesday they were told to come back on Wednesday.

More than hundred beneficiaries went to SASSA offices at 390 Pietermaritz Street on Wednesday, demanding answers from officials, said Mahlengi Dludla from Imbali Unit 14.

Dludla said officials told them that due to the systems being down, they would only get paid in January. Dludla receives child grants of R720 a month.

A SASSA employee who spoke under condition of anonymity said not only child grant beneficiaries were affected but also pensioners.

“It is not the first time they have dropped such a bomb,” said Lindiwe Sithole. “In November, there are always issues.”

She said she had borrowed money for a taxi to the SASSA office intending to pay it back from her grant.

“These people have no heart; they don’t care about us. My three children have no food at home as we speak. The only thing I have at home is maize meal. I don’t even have a tin of fish or potatoes.”

“Last Tuesday, they told us to come back on Wednesday,” said Dludla. “We did that. They gave us some forms to fill in, but still it didn’t make sense. They don’t have a valid reason for us not getting paid. Their responses are not convincing, and it’s not the first [time] this happened. Why does it always happen at this time of the year?”

SASSA communications manager Mbizeni Mdlalose said the system breakdown was beyond SASSA’s control.

Mdlalose said some of the beneficiaries might not be aware that it was time for annual reviews.

“We always encounter problems with the issue of reviews. Sometimes beneficiaries supply us with wrong addresses when they apply for the grants. SASSA sends letters reminding beneficiaries to come for the reviews only to find that the addresses don’t exist. It could be that some of them did not get the money, due to that. That doesn’t mean that they won’t be getting their money but they have to review with the department.

“We urge people to please supply us with legitimate information.

“The system being down is beyond our control, but beneficiaries must make sure that they come for reviews to the offices,” said Mdlalose.

However, all the beneficiaries who spoke to GroundUp said they had provided the department with all the necessary information and had done their reviews in good time.

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TOPICS:  Sassa

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