A recent study by the DA revealed that only four out of 212 SASSA offices around the country answered their phones.
This alarming finding comes as SASSA grant beneficiaries have been struggling for weeks on end to get hold of SASSA offices regarding incorrect pay-outs.
When conducting this research, the most recent parliamentary question where a list of 424 offices was provided, was used. A sample of 50% , 212 offices, were called, which proved to be a challenging task as SASSAs website did not even keep a record of all the local office telephone numbers. The website was outdated and only had a few numbers of local offices in the Western Cape and Limpopo.
A few offices had no number listed on the website. The yellow pages and google searches were a last resort to obtain these contact details. A troubling 83 office numbers could not be found through our various search efforts, which means that 39.1% of offices nationwide, had no visible telephone number online.
Only four out of 212 SASSA offices answered their phones. Out of the four, only one, in the Western Cape, had a system that was online and therefore able to assist beneficiaries.
We also called the SASSA hotline, which was created during COVID and cost millions of taxpayers rands. When calling, a pre-recorded message played, which gave a few options and immediately cut off when selecting any of the options. Additionally, we also decided to phone all nine provincial offices of SASSA, and not a single call was answered.
The self-proclaimed leader in the delivery of social security services is unreachable to the most vulnerable in our society.
The DA calls on the minister of Social Development to make good on the Agency’s own principle of being “Customer centric – putting customer needs at the forefront of everything we do”. SASSA is not putting its customers at the forefront – they are languishing on the back burner with no means of putting food on their table and no way of contacting SASSA to seek the services to which they are constitutionally entitled.
We also call on the Minister to institute a thorough review of SASSA’s customer communications channels and report to the Portfolio Committee at its next meeting scheduled for the 30 November 2022. When the non-payment of grants hit on the 4th November, beneficiaries had no way of contacting SASSA, and we were inundated with queries and complaints – now we know why!
The DA will continue to hold those charged with looking after the vulnerable in our society to account.