Social grants: protesters demand answers from Dlamini

Activists and grant beneficiaries demonstrate in front of SASSA offices in Umlazi

Photo of pensioner with placard

Pensioner Morine Shozi at a Right2Know demonstration outside SASSA offices in Umlazi on Thursday. Photo: Nomfundo Xolo

By Nomfundo Xolo

9 March 2017

Members of the Right to Know Campaign (R2K) gathered outside the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) offices in Umlazi on Wednesday, demanding answers from Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini on the future of grant payments.

Demonstrators expressed support for the Black Sash Constitutional Court case and presented a memorandum to SASSA management.

The Black Sash has asked the Court to ensure the personal data of grant beneficiaries is protected in view of current “unlawful and unauthorised” deductions from social grants, to ensure that the present payment contractor, Cash Paymaster Services, acts “reasonably” in negotiating a new contract with SASSA and to order SASSA to report to the Court.

In its demands, R2K said it wanted clarity regarding the current contract with CPS, which expires on 31 March.

“Bathabile Dlamini is angering us because she is not being accountable, nor is she giving the public clear answers. We’re here today to stand for the millions of grant receivers including the elderly, disabled, women and children. All we want is truth. If she cannot answer any of the public’s questions she must step down,” said Sandile Khwela from R2K.

“We want any information regarding a new contract to be public. No more secrets, no more lies,” said R2K coordinator Ngazini Ngidi.

Morine Shozi, 63, from Umlazi, who heads a family of nine with her old age pension, said she could not imagine what would happen if she did not get her money.

“I don’t know what we would do. We are barely surviving with my grant money and the child support grant for my grandchild. My family and I would have to go to bed hungry. SASSA cannot let that happen. Grants are a human right and we cannot suffer because of their botched deals,” she said.

R2K handed over a memorandum entitled “Hands off our grants” to SASSA KwaZulu-Natal communications manager, Mbizeni Molalose, who urged people not to be afraid. “People will receive their grants as normal on 1 April,” Molalose said.

SASSA KwaZulu-Natal communications manager Mbizeni Molalose accepts a memo from R2K activist Precious Mazibuko. Photo: Nomfundo Xolo

SASSA’s Nolubabalo Ntsinga, 40, who depends on the disability grant, said though the turnout was smaller than expected, she was happy to stand in the rain and demonstrate her frustration.

“We cannot have a minister who acts like Bathabile Dlamini. Such a critical survival resource for the poorest people is now at risk,” she said.