NEWS & ANALYSIS

Illegal deductions sad reality for grant recipients in ECape – Bridget Masango

DA MP says some people are taking home as little as R70 from their grants

Parasitic illegal deductions a sad reality for many grant recipients in the Eastern Cape

2 October 2017

This past weekend the DA went on a number of oversight visits to SASSA pay points and satellite offices in Tsolo and Butterworth in the Eastern Cape. These visits followed numerous accounts from concerned DA councillors who confirmed the dire state of SASSA offices, poor social services available to grant recipients and the fact that beneficiaries at times take home as little as R70 from their grants due to illegal deductions.

The DA will now submit a raft of Parliamentary questions to Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, to ask for details of the equipment available to SASSA officials which should ensure swift and effective service to grant recipients as well as information on why illegal deductions still continue.

Tsolo, 29 October 2017

The service office in Tsolo the DA had visited is in a dire condition. There are 18 social workers, who share one phone.  In one office there are five social workers, who share 3 computers which were not working when we were there.

The toilet doubles up as a kitchen and the public toilet is used as a document storeroom. Most of the files are on the floor and those that are in the cabinets are not closable or lockable. The office itself where client confidential files are kept cannot be locked. The morale at the office is very low.

At the SASSA office in Tsolo, beneficiaries don’t have any toilets.  Even the staff are sharing a temporary-looking ablution facility with the Home Affairs next door. This situation is said to have been like this since 2008.

SASSA workers report that the illegal deductions are still ongoing and they especially don’t know what to tell the elderly who sometimes get as little as R70 from a foster care grant of R920. Some old age grant recipients received R850 instead of R1610.  This parasitic practice is still continuing and nothing is being done about it.

Butterworth, 2 October 2017

The DA visited banks and ATM's where many grant recipients receive their social grants. The DA also visited the NET1 Financial Services office which provides green cards and loans.  What was disturbing about this particular visit, was that the queue at the NET1 offices was longer than that of the banks and ATM.

This was because recipients have the green EasyPay Everywhere cards, from which money is deducted, and did not know they can refuse green cards in favour of the white SASSA cards.

The previous night, the DA went to the local hospital where recipients filled the ambulance waiting room to wait for 12:00 midnight to withdraw their money before the illegal deductions take place.  Also, this is according to the local councillors, because the SASSA schedule is not working for people who are in rural areas because they have no food and they know their money is in the banks already.

The continued illegal deductions are of grave concern to the DA. It is clear that the government is allowing entities like Net1 to punch holes into the safety net of the poor and needy, thus pushing them deeper into poverty and hopelessness.

The dire conditions office structures and poor services our people are subjected to is just further proof that Minister Bathabile Dlamini, the Department of Social Development (DSD) and SASSA has forgotten their mandate of providing relief to the 17 million often poor and vulnerable in our society.

But it is not only the recipients of service that are forgotten, in some of these rural areas, even the workers are forgotten.

The sad truth is that Minister Dlamini is failing the voiceless who she is mandated to help. She is so far removed from the reality and circumstances under which our people live and have no sense of mission for her work nor is she bothered about the plight of the people.

The DA has not forgotten about our people. We are fighting every day against the greed and corruption that has captured the ANC government and fighting to restore the dignity of our people.

Issued by Bridget Masango, DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, 2 October 2017