More than 45% of South Africa’s population receive some sort of social support grant from the government. However, accessing this support has been difficult for many grant recipients.
The South African Social Security (SASSA) distributes millions of grants. Many grant recipients collect their money from a SASSA office or a South Africa Post Office (SAPO) branch.
However, grant recipients have to wait in long lines at SASSA offices and Post Office branches around the country for hours. Some may even be told to return the next day as they wont be helped. A man allegedly passed away after waiting to collect his grant.
Marc Matebe, Gugulethu Uprising Secretary, says people often arrive to collect their grants as early as 4AM in the morning while others even sleep outside the offices. This as they hope they will be able to collect their grants.
Matebe said, “nobody's guaranteed that they will be they will be served when they when they do get here most of them are given appointment dates on pieces of paper and when they come here the next day there's no guarantee that you will be you will be seen”.
He adds that the SASSA office in Gugulethu has to serve five communities, namely, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Crossroads, Philippi and Manenberg. He questions why the offices in these areas were closed and what happened to the staff working in those offices.
“Why aren't they deployed here with the customers coming in for help with grants? You get the old age grants, you get the disability grounds and you get the child grants and it just does not seem to be any progress. We spoke to a manager here last year and when we came back this year we were told there was new management… the new manager doesn't know anything about the problems we had last year and this is a big problem for us”.
He adds that it is normal for people to collapse while waiting for their grants and that this does not even shock people when it occurs.
“It's something that they expect to happen every day because of the fact that SASSA works with half their staff because of the covid pandemic. But the half of staff they have needs to cater for five areas, five officers that were closed and these people inside that work there can't manage with the amount of work they have per day,” concluded Matebe.