People queue outside SASSA officers in Bellville. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
People queue outside SASSA officers in Bellville. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Sassa vows to hunt down grant applicant 'helpers'

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Nov 26, 2021

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Cape Town - The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in the Western Cape has vowed to go after scammers who are taking advantage of prospective grant applicants by charging them fees for their “assistance” in helping them apply for Sassa online.

After receiving numerous reports of scammers posing as non-government and non-profit organisations to take advantage of vulnerable Sassa applicants, by charging them a fee for their assistance in applying for Sassa grants online, Sassa says it will not hold back on bringing all involved to book.

Sassa communication director Shivani Wahab said: “The agency has been a prime target for fraudsters throughout the years. We have received multiple reports of fraudulent practices currently unfolding in communities across the province.

“Scammers, posing as representatives of non-profit organisations, are luring social grant applicants to their ’offices’, under the pretext of assisting the public with online social grant applications, while charging a fee for this illegal service.

“We would like to reassure the public that swift action will be taken against any organisations or individuals involved in any illegal practice.

“A zero-tolerance approach is exercised by Sassa to combat fraud and corruption.”

In clarifying its position on working with civil society organisations, Sassa said it has no formal partnerships with any community-based organisations or individuals to assist residents to apply for social grants online.

“People have the option of applying for social grants online. Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns dictated a new way of conducting business. Sassa launched the online application system for social grants, in 2020, as an alternative mechanism for the public to apply for social grants, without having to physically access any Sassa contact point.

“This system is part of the Sassa strategy to improve service delivery, efficiencies and to empower clients. It significantly reduces the amount of time required at a Sassa contact point, thereby minimising high influxes and long queues at offices,” said Wahab.

Gillion Bosman, the DA provincial spokesperson for social development, said: “When it comes to SASSA, there are a lot of issues that leave room for opportunistic individuals.

“If Sassa is serious about tackling these issues, then they need to look at the organisation as well.

“There is a lot of criminality there too. I am talking about staff taking advantage of the vulnerable just like the criminals in local communities do.

“The other issue is Sassa’s malfunctioning call centre which again leaves room for criminals to step in under the guise to assist.

“If people can’t go to the source for help they are going to go elsewhere and sadly that is when they are taken advantage of.

“Sassa’s systems need to be updated to resolve these issues.”

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Cape Argus

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