The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) CEO, Busisiwe Memela-Khambula, to request that they urgently implement effective measures to address the chaos the nation witnessed on Monday during the payment of social grants to the elderly and the disabled.
It was evident that, despite the Minister’s promise that grants would not be affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, SASSA completely failed to efficiently administer grant payments.
The DA received numerous reports of stampedes; beneficiaries not being able to receive their monies because ATMs and supermarkets ran out of cash, and of various pay-points failing to adhere to Covid-19 measures such as social distancing, and the provision of hand sanitizers.
We also heard heartbreaking stories of the elderly and persons with disabilities who had to go home empty-handed after using the last money to get to these pay-points. While some complained that they had been standing in the queue since 5 am to be told in the late afternoon that the money had run out and that they should come back the next day.
It is unacceptable that the most vulnerable groups in our society had to be subjected to this treatment, especially the elderly, who are at high risk of contracting this virus.
To avoid any further chaos in the coming days, the Minister and SASSA should urgently implement the following measures:
- The Department and SASSA must engage banks and supermarket chains in order to guarantee that ATMs and supermarkets have enough cash to payout grants;
- Pay-points (Post Offices, banks, and supermarkets) should strictly enforce social distancing;
- The Department and SASSA must ensure that all pay-points have an adequate supply of hand sanitizers;
- The Department should work closely with its Police and Defence counterparts to ensure strict security measures to protect grant recipients against opportunists and criminals.
While Minister Zulu paraded for the cameras on Monday morning, the reality on the ground for thousands was chaos and uncertainty.
The DA sends our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the elderly persons who tragically lost their lives while queueing for their grants on Monday. May their souls rest in peace.