2024 The wrong start for SASSA | Western Cape Government



2024 The wrong start for SASSA

12 January 2024

Please attribute the below to Minister Sharna Fernandez
We are barely two weeks into 2024 and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is already making headlines in the worst way for once again letting down our most vulnerable citizens. 
During the festive season our office was inundated with complaints from SASSA grant beneficiaries for various reasons, namely:
-    Some or all the monies have not been available from the Older Persons Grant when withdrawing at a retailer and recourse has been impossible with no results.
-    Applications for the Old Age Grant is an arduous process with no feedback given from SASSA.
-    Beneficiaries receive little to no communication when trying to update Social Relief of Distress grants applications.
-    Beneficiaries complained about delays in transferring grant payouts from retailers or the Post Office to their bank accounts. In one case a woman told us she changed her details in September 2023, yet she only received her grant payment in January 2024.

SASSA is a national agency of the South African government. Thus, when our office receives enquiries or complaints, our only course of action is to refer the matter directly to SASSA’s regional staff so that they may look into the matter. However, there is only one person in SASSA’s Western Cape office dealing with all these complaints. This is absurd and a demonstration of gross neglect towards our most vulnerable citizens, when you consider that there are at least 390 000 grant beneficiaries in this province. 
These complaints are just the tip of the iceberg.
I have been deeply distressed by reports of 150 000 SASSA grant beneficiaries who did not receive their payouts for January. In a statement by SASSA, the agency states: “This was due to incorrect banking details provided when beneficiaries were applying for grants or changing their methods of payments.”
SASSA has requested affected beneficiaries to call its Call Centre (0800 60 10 11) or visit their nearest SASSA offices.
My concern is that this information has not been widely communicated with the public, and more importantly with the beneficiaries for whom grants are so crucial to their survival. 
We have asked SASSA how, or if, the above statement – which was apparently issued on 10 January 2024 although it is nowhere to be seen on SASSA’s website or social media pages – was conveyed to the public. Effective communication is key to ensuring that issues like “incorrect banking details” are prevented, as we have informed SASSA in multiple meetings last year. 
The public deserves transparency. They deserve better than what the national government is currently serving.
I am angry at the silence and continued lack of engagement that I and the residents of the Western Cape have received from national Minister Lindiwe Zulu. I urge her and the department to give clear, honest answers to beneficiaries and to open up communication channels between the national department and the provinces who try and help these deeply distressed citizens.  
I implore South Africans to turn their frustrations over a tattered social grant system to Minister Zulu. Make your voices heard by national government because you deserve better.

On 12 January 2024 (after the release of this statement), SASSA sent a response to questions our office sent on 11 January 2024:

-    SASSA Western Cape can confirm that a total of 18 000 clients were negatively impacted.
-    Challenges with the verification process have since been resolved.
-    Some of the Old Age beneficiaries were already reinstated for payment in January 2024.
-    The Child Support Grant beneficiaries will be reinstated for payment in February 2024.
-    A national media statement was issued to all stakeholders and the public via appropriate platforms.