DA slams Sassa for 'bragging' about paying '2% of grant beneficiaries'

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it will lay a complaint against the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and its chief executive officer, Busisiwe Memela-Khambula, regarding its "abhorrent treatment of those in its care, especially the elderly and disabled".

In a statement, DA MP Bridget Masango said the DA would lay its complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

Masango said Sassa had been "bogged down" by "ineptitude since its inception and the Covid-19 lockdown period had turned the spotlight on its many failings and seeming unwillingness to take the necessary steps to ensure that its beneficiaries were taken care of".

"Since the very start of the lockdown, the DA has called on Sassa to fully capacitate its offices in accordance with Covid-19 health and social distancing protocols to assist grant recipients with payment, complaints, queries, and registrations.

"This has time and again fallen on deaf ears," she said.

Instead of doing the "logical and humane" thing to assist vulnerable South Africans, Sassa had decided to reopen offices with only 30% of staff at work and promised to train volunteers to assist people wanting to apply for the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant of R350.

"Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu has been saying she wants people to have dignity. There is no dignity in people sleeping outside and waiting forever for the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant.

"This has led to desperate elderly people sleeping and queueing in the cold outside Sassa offices for days at a time in an urgent bid to receive their grant. Too many had to return home empty handed without any means to care for their families the following month," she added.

Masango said Sassa was hiding behind technical glitches and empty promises regarding the payment of the R350 grant.

She said the agency was grandstanding about the mere 2% of special grant recipients who had received payment.

"This is nothing to brag about; in fact, it only serves as a reminder of their failures.

"Thousands of South Africans who are in desperate need of financial assistance have been left in the lurch because of Sassa's inability to release relevant, timely information about when the rest of the successful applicants will receive the grant money.

"Nor have they given any indication of when all their highly trained staff will be back at work to help desperate South Africans," she said.

Masango added that Sassa had been mute on the number of promised volunteers trained to assist people trying to apply for the special grant.

"South Africans have yet to hear so much as an apology from Sassa for the grief and disruption they cause millions of people every month," she concluded.

(Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa)

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