News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday April 21st 2018

Poor seeking social relief turned away after extortion

Yolisa Masizana (yellow shirt), Nosipho Mafilika (centre bottom) and Meisie Mpukwana (far right) hold up their ID books showing the tickets in the social relief queue they paid for, only to be turned away, allegedly because they were from Du Noon. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

Yolisa Masizana (yellow shirt), Nosipho Mafilika (centre bottom) and Meisie Mpukwana (far right) hold up their ID books showing the tickets in the social relief queue they paid for, only to be turned away, allegedly because they were from Du Noon. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

30.10.2012

Desperate residents from poor communities were allegedly charged between R20 and R60 each by security guards outside the Western Cape Department of Social Development’s offices for a place in the queue to receive social relief of distress grants on Monday, only to be turned away.

The extortion came after over 100 people camped on the doorstep of the Social Security Agency on Queen Victoria Street on Sunday night in order to receive relief amounting to R1200 in food vouchers on Monday morning.

A number of grant-seekers said they had arrived at midday on Sunday and during that time security guards outside the offices issued them stickers indicating their place in the queue on Monday morning.

But the guards who took over on the night shift apparently issued different stickers at a charge of between R20 to R60, with the higher value guaranteeing a better place in the queue, said Du Noon resident Yolisa Masizana, 34,  who paid R20.

“I thought it is a normal practise to pay money to security guards to be on the queue,” said Masizana.

But come Monday morning the grant-seekers, most of them from Du Noon, claim they were chased from the department’s offices.

Masizana said an SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) official told them their ward councillor had sent an instruction to not take applications from Du Noon residents as it was embarrassing that residents were sleeping outside to receive a grant.

She said as a result she lied to officials at SASSA, telling them she was from Atlantis, but their system picked up that she lived in Du Noon and she was turned away.

Like other mothers who slept outside SASSA’s offices, she planned to use the food vouchers to purchase food for Christmas.

Mother of two children aged two and 14, Nosipho Mafilika, 29, said she paid her last R60 to security guards in order to get a place in the queue.

However she, like Masizana, was turned away and she had to ask friend for taxi fare to get back to Du Noon.

The Du Noon residents then gathered outside ward councillor Lubabalo Makeleni’s offices on Monday afternoon, demanding an explanation as to why he had sent a directive to SASSA preventing them from receiving relief.

“We are very upset, we wasted our time and money sleeping outside,” said Dumani Mqikela, 49, who survives by scavenging in rubbish bins.

“They said they would give us a voucher of food worth R1200 and we could go to Spur and get food… we are very desperate. We are not working,” said Mqikela.

Makeleni said he did not know anything about what SASSA officials had told residents from his ward and he would follow the matter up with the Department of Social Development.

SASSA Western Cape regional head Dr Waldie Terblanche said the agency did not know where the residents got information they should sleep at the agency’s offices and seek the social relief of distress grant.

Terblanche said SASSA assessed the needs of applicants and only those who qualified were issued with up to R1200 of food vouchers.

“We have made officials available to explain to residents that we are not carrying out a campaign handing out food vouchers. If they come again we will have to explain to them again,” said Terblanche.

Regarding extortion by security guards, he said SASSA shared offices with the Department of Social Development which had contracted security guards and he had requested an internal unit dealing with fraud to investigate the matter.

“If proven to be true we shall take necessary action against the security guards,” he said. — Peter Luhanga

Tags: Dr Waldie Terblanche, Nosipho Mafilika, SASSA, Social Security Agency, Yolisa Masizana

Leave a Reply