South Africa: Sassa Applicants Camped Outside Mdantsane Office

"I noticed that most people getting served were those who had camped here the night before, so I decided to join them"

A group of child support grant applicants, wrapped in large blankets and huddled together to keep warm, spent Tuesday night outside the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) offices in Mdantsane, East London.

Due to lockdown restrictions in level 4, only a third of SASSA's workforce are currently at work, and many applicants have been spending the night outside local offices.

The Mdantsane office can only service up to 50 people per day. Most applicants who decided to camp outside the SASSA offices said they had been turned away before and hoped that sleeping there would give them an advantage to being served the following day.

Sikelekwa Kilana from NU 6 in Mdantsane said Wednesday would be her second attempt at completing an application for a grant. "I was turned away last week because SASSA could only take 50 people. I was number 65. I have taken a decision to sleep here outside SASSA offices," said Kilana.

Another applicant, Nosiphiwo Dinisa from Berlin in Buffalo City, said, "I noticed that most people getting served were those who had camped here the night before, so I decided to join them."

Sipho Nonganga said that he had previously arrived at the offices at around 1am but the number of people queueing already exceeded the limit of 50. "I came around 5pm the next week and again already there were people queueing."

Two weeks ago, SASSA Eastern Cape spokesperson Luzuko Qina told GroundUp that under level four restrictions SASSA local offices could only service "a limited number" of Old Age pension applicants on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Child Support and Foster Care grant applicants on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

"On Fridays we serve those whom we were not able to serve on the days above," he said.

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