MEC for Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, has condemned the police for using water cannons to disperse people queueing at SASSA offices in Bellville yesterday.
Fernandez said, “It is not their fault that they have been failed in this way.”
Western Cape government and MEC Sharna Fernandez have called on President Ramaphosa to intervene in the SASSA crisis. The citizens had been seeking assistance from SASSA after Temporary Disability Grants were put on hold.
Good afternoon Fellow citizens and members of congress.
My mother like many others didn't receive her very much needed #Sassa #Disabilitygrant on the 5th as expected, but what I want to know is do you really expect my mother of age  to stand in a que with no social distance? pic.twitter.com/vYicqj2D19
— Shania Johannsen (@MaseChefSA) January 9, 2021
The MEC explained that what happened at SASSA’s local office yesterday could have been avoided if SASSA had planned accordingly.
“Actions like these exacerbate the trauma, experienced by many who are desperate to know when they will receive their grant,” she said.
Fernandez has welcomed Premier Alan Winde’s decision to write to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking him to urgently intervene.
She described the situation as a rapidly escalating public health and humanitarian crisis stemming from the termination of all SASSA Temporary Disability Grants in South Africa as at 31 December 2020.
51 750 Temporary Disability Grants terminated in Western Cape
“The letter sent by Premier Winde to President Ramaphosa is against the backdrop of 51 750 Temporary Disability Grants that have been terminated in the Western Cape alone,” Fernandez added.
She said it had been reported that a young woman had a fit yesterday while waiting in a long line to seek assistance from SASSA.
“This incident comes at a time where during this past week, we have witnessed thousands of grant beneficiaries gathering at SASSA’s local offices in the province seeking assistance, often camping out for days at a time without food or access to sanitation, and in contravention of Covid-19 social distancing and curfew regulations,” the MEC explained.
Fernandez continued, “Although SASSA is a national entity and not under the jurisdiction of the Western Cape government, we cannot sit tight-lipped, whilst our most vulnerable citizens are left destitute. These beneficiaries are being robbed of their dignity as we are well-aware that these grants are crucial to providing a plate of food for their families.”
She said the situation is completely unacceptable. After the release of the videos yesterday, many South Africans have taken to social media to express their dismay.
— Legasa Butler Mollo (@legasamollo7) January 15, 2021
“SASSA originally agreed to do a follow-up meeting with our Department on Friday 15 January 2021, to discuss solutions to address the challenges we are facing on the ground. However, this meeting was postponed by SASSA until Monday 18 January 2021 due to the National Minister’s visit.”
Fernandez added, “Beneficiaries must be informed as to whether there are any plans to extend the special Covid disability grant beyond 31 January 2021, and if not, what measures will be taken to avoid a repeat of the large gatherings and protests at SASSA offices seen in the past week.
“If the grant is not to be extended, what other measures will be taken by the National sphere of government to assist people given the continued State of Disaster and the resulting loss of income being experienced by our citizens, and what is expected of the provincial and local spheres of government in this regard,” she concluded.