Beneficiaries struggling with grants since SASSA closed Macassar office

“People are poor and cannot afford to travel far for services that should be here,” says resident

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SASSA stopped operating from this community hall in Macassar two years ago. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso

  • Residents in Macassar are struggling to access SASSA grants ever since the local office was closed in mid-2022.
  • The closest SASSA office is in Eerste River and it costs about R100 for a round-trip journey via minibus taxi.
  • A PRASA plan to relocate about 2,000 families occupying the Central Line to Macassar has increased the urgency for the office to be reopened.

South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiaries in Macassar, Cape Town, are struggling to get help with grants ever since the agency shut its local office almost two years ago.

The office had offered services such as applications for social grants, renewal of expired grant cards, and updates on the status of applications.

Macassar residents needing these services, and who are not able to access them online, have to travel to other SASSA offices, such as in Eerste River, for assistance. But these offices are already under pressure.

“It’s frustrating. People here are poor and cannot afford to travel far distances for services that should have been here,” said Macassar resident Danielle April.

“We have been suffering for two years. We have been complaining but there are no changes. We feel we are a forgotten community and no one cares,” said April. She said it a minibus return trip to the nearest SASSA office cost R100.

Ward 109 Councillor Peter Helfrich (DA) said, “There used to be certain days when SASSA would come and service the residents. Residents are asking for them to come just for one day.”

Black Sash Western Cape officer Thandi Henkeman said interim measures could provide some relief, but there needed to be long term solutions.

“Access to social security services is a constitutional right and is crucial for vulnerable communities, and any disruptions can have significant impacts on their well-being,” said Henkeman.

SASSA provincial spokesperson Shivani Wahab confirmed that the Macassar area is predominantly serviced by the Eerste River office, which operates weekdays and has appointments on Fridays for pensioners, people with disabilities and child support recipients.

She said SASSA introduced an online application system to “further mitigate challenges linked to travel costs and long queues”.

Complaints about access to SASSA services have come on the back of a proposal by PRASA to relocate thousands of families occupying the Central Line to Macassar. Residents fear this will not only put even more pressure on SASSA services, but negatively impact sanitation, electricity and policing.

“The ward has experienced frequent power disruptions stemming from Eskom’s capacity constraints. The influx of another 2,000 households would exacerbate these challenges, rendering life in the ward untenable and have a dire impact on many other services,” said Helfrich.

TOPICS:  Sassa Social Grants

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