The community of Elsies River was left hanging yesterday after the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) did not attend a planned public meeting, meant to address grievances related to ongoing illegal grant deductions.
Just over 30 community members were left hanging, after SASSA officials did not pitch up at the Elsies River Civic Centre, at a meeting scheduled between the local councillor and the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD).
SASSA’s behaviour demonstrated a complete contempt for poor people, and is completely unacceptable. Given that the majority of people present wanted answers on the ongoing incidents of unauthorized deductions from their social grants, SASSA’s ducking, added insult to injury.
Residents of the Western Cape continue to fall victim to illegal and unauthorised deductions from their social grants. SASSA itself cites having received in excess of 2000 complaints in February alone.
SASSA must act on every complaint they receive from the communities at these meetings, but in order to do this, it MUST attend meetings, especially when it has committed to attending.
DSD will continue to attend these public meetings in order to play our oversight role over SASSA, which is an independent national entity. Even though DSD has no operational control over SASSA, the Provincial Ministry has since the beginning of this year received 27 complaints related to illegal deductions. To date, the Ministry has assisted with 626 cases since 2010.
It must always be borne in mind that social grant recipients are the poorest of the poor, and are people from the most vulnerable segments of our society. To have any money missing from their grants has serious implications for their day-to-day basic needs, such as food.