The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has decided to reopen a service point in Vredenburg within the Saldanha Bay Municipality following an increase in the number of grant applications.
This was revealed by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, responding to parliamentary questions from GOOD Party MP Brett Herron.
Herron had noted that about 250 people from Hopefield were unable to get to the Sassa office in Vredenburg and that they also had no guarantee of being assisted if they needed to make an appointment.
Sassa has a policy to take services to the communities that have difficulty in accessing their offices.
“Given that the specified persons from Hopefield have difficulty in accessing the in-services, how will the Sassa office make provision for such persons to obtain the proper advice and/or services in their communities?” Herron asked.
In her written response, Zulu said the Saldanha Bay Municipality had a population of 154 635, according to Census 2022, spread over eight major towns.
She said before the outbreak of Covid-19, the office had 10 grant administrators who were split into two teams to service the Vredenburg and linked service points.
“Over the past two years, the Vredenburg office lost a total of 14 officials due to various reasons. Unfortunately, the National Treasury placed a moratorium on the filling of vacant positions, which resulted in the closure of the office,” she said.
“After noticing the growing number of applicants, Sassa decided to reopen the service point on an appointment basis, which has proven to be an effective way,” she said.
Zulu confirmed that Sassa had a policy for access to a service point to be within a 25km radius.
“To cater for the needs of the community, Sassa has negotiated with the Saldanha Bay Municipality to allow clients to utilise the Hopefield Thusong Centre to access the Sassa online application system free of charge with the assistance of the centre manager.”
She said beneficiaries in Hopefield who had switched to other banks, but have not yet received their payments, could still access their social grants using their Postbank card.
Zulu added that Sassa also conducted home visits for frail or sick clients who could not access the offices.
“A request is generally made through the local office.”