SASSA owes millions in outstanding municipal bills

One of the offices in Durban owed over R6-million in rent

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SASSA told Parliament that at least 19 offices had outstanding rent bills, of which seven are in KwaZulu-Natal. SASSA told GroundUp that it has since paid the rents for most of these offices. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA)’s Durban District office hasn’t paid its rent for over five years and owes over R6-million, while the Northern Cape’s Ritchie Local Office has not paid rent for ten years.

These are just a few of the answers given by the state agency in a parliamentary response in November 2022 to DA MP Bridget Masango’s question about outstanding rent at different SASSA offices.

Delays with municipalities issuing invoices or sending the wrong invoices have caused these payment challenges, according to SASSA spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi.

SASSA listed at least 19 offices which had outstanding rent bills, of which seven are in KwaZulu-Natal. SASSA told GroundUp that it has since only paid the rent to some of these offices.

In the Eastern Cape, the Nelson Mandela Metro District Office, housed in a Post Office building in Gqeberha, has just over R1-million outstanding rent. SASSA said that its regional management has withheld payment here until the Post Office resolves some Occupational Health and Safety non-compliance related issues. Letsatsi said that this office was closed in December 2021 and is expected to reopen in February 2023.

Similarly, the Kempton Park satellite office in Gauteng has not been paid for several months. SASSA said that invoices received in October 2022 were incorrect. The municipality was asked to amend the invoices and provide new banking details but no amended invoices have been received since, according to SASSA.

In the Northern Cape, the Ritchie Local Office has not paid its rent in a decade. Letsatsi said that SASSA is still in negotiations with the landlord.

SASSA said invoices for municipal services have not been issued for its Phillipstown and Noupoort offices. Phillipstown municipal services haven’t been paid for over six years while SASSA disputes the rent amount due for the building it shares with the municipality. Noupoort hasn’t paid its municipal bill for over eight years due to a “discrepancy”.

Letsatsi said that “most challenges for non-payment of rent are due to either delay in municipalities issuing invoices or the invoices sent being incorrect”. Despite sending monthly reminders to municipalities, there is often no response, he said.

KwaZulu-Natal had the most offices with outstanding rent, some of which had been outstanding for several years. The Archie Gumede office’s rent hasn’t been paid for nearly ten years. The Durban District office also hadn’t paid its rent for over five years and owed over R6-million.

SASSA said that despite the non-payment of rent, the offices are still “operating at full capacity”.

TOPICS:  Sassa

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