SASSA services halted in Khayelitsha due to lack of planning

Issued by Alexandra Abrahams MP & Noko Masipa MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Social Development & Khayelitsha Constituency Head
17 Jul 2022 in News

Please find attached photographs here, here, here and here.

SASSA clients who arrived in the cold and wet weather at the Khayelitsha local office on Thursday 14 July 2022, were turned away as scheduled building renovations had commenced.

The DA submitted a parliamentary written question to Minister Lindiwe Zulu which was published in the Internal Questions Paper dated 10 June 2022.

We asked the Minister what plans SASSA has to ensure uninterrupted services to SASSA clients in Khayelitsha when the renovations commenced?

This question still unanswered by Minister Zulu despite the rules of parliament stating written questions are to be answered within 10 working days.

From the chaos experienced at the local office, it is evident that there was no plan in place despite the renovations having been scheduled in March already.

Further investigation led the DA to a proposed temporary building earmarked to be used during the renovations located at BIKI Tyre and Wheel Alignment Centre, Kwezi Crescent, Khayelitsha.

When we visited this property in May 2022, renovations had already commenced with the yellow “SASSA” paint already on the walls. The visit led to serious questions as to whether this property is suitable and conducive to render the SASSA services.

It was clear that the temporary site lacked in terms of location, security, shelter while clients queue, bathroom access and the size of the space to name but a few.

However, two very troubling factors which specifically stood out were the lack of electrical safety and a dysfunctional sewage system.

The electrical box opens and closes with a screw, demonstrated by the security personnel and located in the open space where staff and clients will be situated. Furthermore, many more extension plugs and cables were inserted by the property owner.

It was disturbing to see the outflow sewerage pipes already blocked with fecal matter despite only security personnel on the premise at the time.

The Khayelitsha SASSA office services in excess of 400 clients daily. Three additional toilets had been recently added to the existing two toilets, but the question remains if the outflow sewerage pipes are sufficient.

On Friday 15 July 2022, the DA revisited both the recently closed SASSA offices, as well as the proposed temporary site.

SASSA officials, still at the closed office, expressed their frustration and anger about the dismal manner in which senior management failed to plan and communicate with them as well as the vulnerable SASSA clients.

During our visit we found no notice on the gates, redirecting clients, and no communication on SASSA’s nor the Department of Social Development’s website or social media platforms.

Occupation of the temporary office has been put on hold, noting the occupational health and safety concerns, and is currently being used for storage.

The Minister for Publics Works and Infrastructure responded to written questions stating the tender process for the brand-new SASSA office for Khayelitsha was concluded and awarded to Kwa Ace Cc on 24 November 2021. Erf 809 Phakamani Road, Khayelitsha is the site identified. The monthly rental cost for SASSA will be R150 305.00 after construction is completed by the owner.

This however is a long-term solution for SASSA at best.

As a result of poor and failed planning from Minister Zulu and SASSA, Khayelitsha residents will now spend more money on transportation to neighboring SASSA offices such as Mitchells Plain, Eerste River and Bellville. This will result in longer queues as there will be a higher volume of clients needing to access SASSA.

The Minister and SASSA must initiate extra working hours and reassign Khayelitsha staff to these offices immediately to assist with the increase of clients.

The current renovations at the local office are scheduled to be completed in 12 months and with SASSA’s reputation, plagued with multiple systematic problems, will require multi stakeholder engagement in order to find a workable solution quickly.

Minister Zulu and the management of SASSA will soon be sitting comfortably in a new state of the art R18 billion Salvokop office, while local SASSA staff and clients are left stranded.