South Africa: Refugee Mother Owed Nine Months of Child Grants

Refugees are seen leaving whilst police cordon off the area (file photo).

Annie Tshimanga, originally from Congo, lost nine months of child grants when she was robbed of her SASSA card in 2017. She is still fighting for the money she is owed.

In December 2017 Tshimanga's handbag, with her refugee permit and her SASSA card in it, was stolen at her stall in East London where she sells underwear and jeans.

At the time her permit was valid until August 2018. She was receiving a grant for four children, in terms of the Social Assistance Act.

She says she quickly reported the theft of the card and permit to SASSA offices in East London.

At first officials told her to bring an affidavit from the police station, but when she returned with the affidavit they said she had to bring her original refugee permit.

For that she had to go to the Desmond Tutu Refugee Centre in Pretoria to apply for a replacement permit. But when she visited the centre in January 2018 she could not get her permit replaced because the computer system indicated that she had a file at the Cape Town Refugee Centre, from an earlier application under her mother's name.

With help from attorney Linton Harmse at the Nelson Mandela University Refugee Rights Centre, her permit was finally replaced in May 2018 and extended to February 2024.

She went back to SASSA to get her stolen card replaced, and in October 2018 officials told her they could not replace her old card but she could make a new application. By then she had lost nine months of grants, but the officials assured her the unpaid grants would be transferred to her new card. When this did not happen, she went back to the Nelson Mandela University Refugee Rights Centre.

Harmse said SASSA first tried to shift the blame to Tshimanga and then simply stopped responding to his emails. "The case is still ongoing and Tshimanga is entitled to the money," he said.

GroundUp sent questions to SASSA in December 2019 and in January this year. SASSA spokesperson Luzuko Qina told us Tshimanga should return to the SASSA offices where she would be paid the unpaid grants once the necessary processes had been completed.

Tshimanga visited SASSA in January. She said officials took her documents and promised to contact her.

Six weeks later, she is still waiting.

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