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Cape Town – The Pay the Grants campaign has demanded that Sassa and the Department of Social Development fix “serious flaws” in their system which have resulted in potentially millions of people being denied the R350 SRD Grant.
Today activists will be picketing at the offices of the department and Sassa where they will hand over a memorandum detailing defects they say they recorded in their work – defects that include outdated and inaccurate databases, badly designed automation and critical staff shortages, among others.
Pay the Grants co-ordinator Israel Nkuna said they needed clarity about the information that the government departments were sharing with Sassa, information he said was clearly outdated or faulty.
“Crucially, the information being fed to the Sassa system needs to be verified by humans before the appeal process – a process which is overly long and often fruitless. More people need to be assigned to help process these grants, rather than relying on flawed, automated systems.
“Trivial errors like misspelling a name can result in a rejection with an ‘Identity verification failed’ message. A simple check, made by a human, against an ID number and other identifying details could avoid these problems. We need this system fixed as soon as possible, and information to be shared with applicants,” he said.
Black Sash senior paralegal-fieldworker Jonathan Walton said that as of September 1, a significant number of applications had been received by Sassa (12 261 895), however, we are concerned that only just over half of these applications have been approved so far (6 913 338).
“The excessively stringent eligibility criteria will unfairly limit the number of approved applications. Ultimately, Sassa will need to disclose what the total number of successful Covid-19 SRD grant applications will be.
“Applicants cannot be expected to appeal the outcome of an application if they do not know the reasons why an application was declined. When an application is declined, Sassa must disclose the full reasons for this decision,” he said.
Walton said the Constitution was clear about matters concerning administrative justice as stated in section 33(1) of the Constitution, that everyone had the “right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair”.
Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said applicants whose applications were declined can appeal the decision and that an applicant would be paid from the month in which they applied.