Answer to a question from a reader

Can SASSA put my pension under review without warning me? How can I complain about a rude SASSA official?

The short answer

You must be given three months' notice of the review by SASSA. You can complain about the official to SASSA directly.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My SASSA pension was suspended in November last year. When I went to the SASSA office, they told me my pension was under review and that I needed to resubmit some documents. 

I was sent to a different counter for more information. When I asked why my pension was under review, the lady snapped at me saying that it's the government's money that I'm receiving and they can review it whenever they want to. I corrected her by saying that I worked for this money. She rudely told me to go away and that she would make sure I don't get my pension. 

Is it true that SASSA can put my pension under review without warning me? How can I submit a complaint about the SASSA official's rudeness?

The long answer

Let’s take the issues one by one:

SASSA can decide if your grant must be reviewed. On the government website, it says that your income when you applied for the grant will form the basis for the decision to review. But it goes on to say that you will be notified three months in advance of the date when the review will take place or it will be on the date on which the life certificate (proof that you are still alive) is due. (It says that if you receive your money “through the bank, an institution or procurator”, you are required to fill in a life certificate at the SASSA offices every year.)

The website goes on to say that the following things may result in the suspension of your grant:

  • When your circumstances change

  • The outcome of a review

  • If you fail to co-operate when your grant is reviewed

  • When you commit fraud or misrepresent yourself

  • If there was a mistake when your grant was approved.

The disrespectful way you were treated by the SASSA official: 

As an article by Legal Fundi points out, the law requires SASSA officers to treat people with dignity and provide them with correct information, and all public servants are required to follow the Batho Pele service delivery principles. 

Batho Pele means People First. These are the Batho Pele Principles. (I have bolded issues which apply particularly to you):   

  1. Consultation: you can tell us what you want from us.

  2. Access: one and all should get their fair share.

  3. Service delivery: insist that our promises are kept.

  4. Courtesy: don’t accept insensitive treatment. 

Courtesy is not only being polite to customers, but being friendly, helpful and treating everyone with dignity and respect. We should write down a code of conduct and we should train and assess our staff in customer care. Our managers should monitor the relationship between front line staff and customers and help staff to give a warm and friendly service to everyone.

  1. Value for money: your money should be employed wisely.

  2. Redress: your complaints must spark positive action.

Redress is making it easy for people to tell us they are unhappy with our service. We should train staff to deal with complaints in a friendly, helpful manner. We should apologise and put the problem right as quickly as possible. We should tell Customers how and where to complain and we should keep a record of all complaints and how we dealt with them. We should understand that complaints can help us to improve our service as they tell us what our customers want.

  1. Openness and transparency: We should be open about our day-to-day activities, how much our departments receive, how that money is spent. This information should be available to the public. Annual reports, strategic plans, service commitment charters, etc. must be made available to the public. We should tell our customers where to complain and how to do it.

  2. Information: citizens should be given full accurate information about the services they are entitled to receive.

Making a complaint:

You can contact SASSA at 0800 60 10 11


You need to make the complaint to SASSA first. Be sure to record the details of the date and whom you spoke to and their response. You should make a sworn affidavit about what happened at the Roodepoort offices: the lack of notification about the review, the lack of information given about why the review is being undertaken, and above all, the rudeness of the official and her threat that she would show you that you would not get your pension.

It would be useful to make an affidavit because the rude official might claim that you were hostile and failed to co-operate with the review of your pension, which, as noted above, is grounds for suspending it. 

You could take this affidavit to an organisation like the Black Sash and ask them to help. They give free paralegal advice, and have a lot of experience in dealing with SASSA. These are their contact details:


Helpline: 072 66 33 73, 072 633 3739 or 063 610 1865.

You can SMS them or even send them a “please call me” if you have no airtime.

If the complaint to SASSA does not get resolved satisfactorily, you can consider lodging a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). 

On the SAHRC website, you can download a complaint form. On this form you will have to fill in:

  • Your full name, race and gender (for statistical purposes only), your physical and postal address, email, telephone – and your preferred way of communicating;

  • Full details of what has happened, dates and place, what human right has been violated, and if it involves any organ of state;

  • What you have done so far to resolve the complaint;

  • Contact details for any person who can supply further information;

  • Whether the complaint is urgent;

  • Any other relevant details and documents that can be used in the investigation.

The investigation is likely to take a fair amount of time. 

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Feb. 2, 2024, 1:54 p.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.