Cape Town - The Standing Committee on Social Development were briefed on what went wrong that led to hundreds of disabled people seeking the extension of their grants being water-sprayed by police outside the Bellville Sassa offices.
Sassa regional executive manager Bandile Maqetuka said: “This (overcrowding at offices) is understood given the challenge of deepening poverty and the complications that came with the revised lockdown restrictions.
“I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the applicants who were inconvenienced due to the lapsing of the grants despite it having been communicated individually and on a range of platforms.”
In December, a total of 210 778 temporary disability grants (TDG) lapsed and the extension of the TDG will cost approximately R1.2 billion for the remainder of the financial year.
Maqetuka said the only possible available budget is R411 million, which is being considered for utilisation to support where necessary. This is based on an assumption of 80% return of lapsed TDGs following an assessment process.
“Should the rate of return for lapsed TDGs be 50%, the possible funds available for utilisation will increase to R817 million,” he said.
Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Zahid Badroodien said the City has also been accused of being an obstacle towards the utilisation of providing facilities for Sassa “however the City had booked the venues for Sassa which was shown on the system”.
“At the beginning of the lockdown, we engaged with Sassa to try and assist wherever possible. At the beginning of the lockdown, they had indicated that they would not use the facilities previously used. The email communication is evidence that we have been working with them,” he said.
Western Cape MEC of Social Development Sharna Fernandez said: “I am deeply concerned that Sassa's current operating model cannot cope with the high volumes of beneficiaries that require assessments. Despite requesting a beefing up of Sassa’s ‘10 Point-Plan’, there are still huge gaps in their existing plans which must be addressed urgently.”
DA spokesperson on Social Development Gillion Bosman said: “Residents deserve better, and so we have invited the relevant stakeholders to provide answers to the standing committee on what led to the Sassa crisis in the province and offer grant recipients conclusive answers on what is being done to address the grant backlog.”