Only 4.7% SASSA branches answer their phones

Issued by Bridget Masango MP – DA Shadow Minister of Social Development
13 Nov 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Bridget Masango MP 

Only 4.7% of the more than 200 South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) branches that the DA contacted nationwide answered their telephones. This is greatly alarming, as it means that SASSA social grant recipients are unable to contact their local branches for assistance or information. This leaves vulnerable beneficiaries helpless in the event of queries or concerns, as was the case with the September grant payments that left 600 000 older persons grant recipients without funds due to a Postbank payment glitch.

The DA contacted a random sample of 50% of the SASSA branches across the country. Of the 212 branches, only 48 (22.6%) had a working telephone line, while the remainder had outdated numbers or no telephone numbers available at all.

We searched for SASSA branch telephone numbers on the same platforms grant recipients could reasonably expect to find the information – the registry on SASSA’s website, the Yellow Pages, as well as Google.

It is very concerning that Mpumalanga has zero working telephone lines, while the North West has only one.

When the phones were answered, the DA was informed that operational systems were offline or only partially operational.

We also tested the SASSA national hotline and provincial head offices; only KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo answered, and we were informed of significant structural issues, where system trips are left unresolved and can continue for weeks.

While SASSA was said to have invested millions of rands in its call centres across the country during the Covid-19 pandemic, this seems to have gone to waste and adds to the string of failures under Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.

SASSA’s failure to provide basic access to their services is an indication of the ANC government’s continued lack of care for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

Section 27 of the Constitution provides for access to appropriate social assistance to those who cannot support themselves and their dependents. Yet very little has changed in the year since the DA first conducted this survey.

It is time Minister Zulu’s head rolled. SASSA beneficiaries deserve a competent and caring Minister to helm the Department responsible for their well-being.

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