Security bars News24 reporter from Sassa pay point during picket

2017-03-02 13:30
An armed security guard dressed in combat fatigues outside the Sassa centre in Mitchells Plain. (Jenni Evans/News24)

An armed security guard dressed in combat fatigues outside the Sassa centre in Mitchells Plain. (Jenni Evans/News24)

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Cape Town – An armed security guard prevented a News24 reporter from entering a social grants pay point in Mitchells Plain on Thursday.

Without asking for a reason for entry, a form of identification or conducting a search, the guard blocked the reporter and said she was not allowed into the Portlands Indoor Sports Centre.

The journalist wanted to get more information for people complaining about being short-changed on their SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants.

Another armed guard, also in combat fatigues, stood by.

Outside, a steady stream of women and men walked from the building to a Right2Know campaign picket to complain about mystery deductions, and uncertainty over whether their grant money would be paid next month.

Sassa has not yet indicated how grants will be paid when the contract with the current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), ends on March 31.

'Will we get paid?'

"There are people here who had money deducted for months now for airtime and loans they did not take," said Ann October, from the Right2Know campaign and Black Sash.

"Will we get paid next month?"

October said the government should pay their money into the Post Bank again and spend any money it saved on the poor.

Black Sash had been complaining to Sassa and the Department of Social Development about illegal deductions for a long period. Side companies linked to CPS were offering recipients loans against the grant money it was paying out.

The Constitutional Court had ruled that certain deductions were no longer permitted, like the funeral policies taken from children's grants.

On Thursday, residents gathered outside Sassa’s offices at the Portlands centre.

They said they were routinely short-changed and, when they queried it, officials sent them to a police station to open a case.

'They send you from place to place'

Johanna Jacobs, 78, said she was paid R20 short every month and had not been able to get it paid back.

"They send you from place to place all day," said protester Sumaya Smith. She looks after her aged mother, who needs R1 500 a month to live on.

Smith said her mother only received R1 000.

The security guard refused to get information for those waiting outside the centre. He refused to call a centre manager.

After about 15 minutes, a CPS official emerged, asked what the reporter's business was, and explained that the security was necessary to protect cash on the premises.

On Thursday, a Sassa pay point in Bonteheuwel was reportedly robbed.

Read more on:    sassa  |  cape town  |  grants

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