Grant registration chaos has thousands in panic

2012-09-04 00:00

THOUSANDS of beneficiaries who have spent nights sleeping in queues fearing they would not be re-registered for social grants have been assured that there will be many opportunities to re-register if they miss their allocated dates.

The beneficiaries are being re-registered because responsibility for payments of social development grants throughout the country has been transferrred to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

The chief executive of CPS, Serge Belamant, said beneficiaries would not lose their pensions if they missed the registration.

“We have to register people over a period of 12 months; we will still come back to every area we visit for many more rounds of registration.”

Panic broke out during re-registration in Muden last week. Thousands of beneficiaries spent days and nights sleeping on concrete floors and in the open air at the site waiting their turn.

The registration began on Wednesday last week at the Muden Community Hall and thousands of people showed up. Fearing the long queues, some people camped there overnight trying to be keep their places in the queue. Many of those were elderly, the disabled and children.

A community member, Jeffrey Ngobese, said, “This was the cruellest thing I have ever seen. Many people packed the community hall in the hope of registering, but there were no more than 10 people there to drive the process.

“A large number of the elderly, sick, children and disabled spent days standing in the hot sun. Many of thom took ill and had to be taken to hospital.

“Some waited from Wednesday to be registered only to be told on Saturday they should go home as the registration had stopped because no more new [grant payment] cards were available and they would be informed of the new date,” said Ngobese.

Ward councillor Bhojabhoja Dlamini said the registration was badly organised. “Whoever was organising that event had not put much thought into it. Of the thousands of people that showed up, I estimate only about 300 were actually helped.”

Belamant said the Muden chaos was due to poor communication and a lack of capacity. Many of the beneficiaries received notice of the re-registration drive from the radio or by word of mouth.

It took an estimated 20 minutes to register one family, which meant about three people per hour would be processed, and CPS staff uisually work about six hours a day.

Attempts to get comment from two communications officials of the SA Social Security Agency were unsuccessful.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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