Stories from Gauteng

Access to Monitoring SASSA Site:  Story from Justice and Peace Arch Diocese of JHB

1. What specific problem did you notice with regard to service delivery during your site monitoring?

The area was in SOWETO, Johannesburg municipality. When our monitors went to monitor a SASSA pay point, they were denied access by the security. The security requested them to produce SASSA identification cards and monitors could only produce an access letter from SASSA.

2. Have you decided to act to improve/change this problem? If YES, tell us more.

Our monitors reported this incident to the CMAP administrator who advised that they inform SASSA provincial office about the matter. This was done and in the mean time, monitors requested the security to call their supervisor who immediately came to the gate and listened to their request. The supervisor then began to make several calls to his managers, who later allowed monitors access on condition they produce their personal identity documents.


Refentse Health Care Giving Programme

1. What specific problem did you notice with regard to service delivery during your site monitoring?

This was at the SASSA service point in Haamanskraal, Pretoria:

  • The site has only 8 staff members working in it.
  • They were behind in capturing the client information as they were on July 2011 files, and our visit was in October.
  • There is a lack of computers for screening and capturing.
  • The site they use does not belong to them, it belongs to Public Works.
  • It has only 2 offices and cannot provide the privacy the clients need.
  • There is no shelter for clients, people sit under a car port where it is open on either side.
  • The venue is not completely accessible for disabled people, there is no special seating arrangement either
  • Clients arrive as early as 3am on a daily basis because of the lack of staff, long lines and the need to be first in queues.
  • Both inside and outside of the gate where clients grouped there was no seats or shelter to protect them from rain.
  • The office only has 2 people doing screening and they are supposed to only 21 people each a day. However on most days they see more than 40 clients.
  • Recently they have had their internet cut and had Telkom advise them that the internet server they are using has no cooling system and could blow up at any time if it continues to overheat.
  • Officials also need to share a bathroom (male and female) they also need to use the bathroom as a kitchen if they need to wash their coffee cups /dishes.
  • They are so under staffed that they do not have time to go on lunch/ have a tea
  • break in the day on many occasions they work till 18h00 to see clients.
  • The premises has snakes and on many occasions they have found their clients screaming.
  • The bathroom for clients has no doors to ensure privacy.
  • Clients sit for hours waiting to be assisted and on many occasions they are turned away.
  • In order to get permission on a grant they need to make a list of all the applicants, fax it off and wait for consent which takes a while.
  • With the site being handed over from North West SASSA to Gauteng SASSA the staff are not capacitated to use the same systems.
  • The service point is the only one to service the entire surrounding communities in miles and they do not have any mobile sites in communities.

2. Have you decided to act to improve/change this problem? If YES, tell us more…

The state of affairs was reported to the Black Sash Regional Manager and a decision
was taken to revisit the site with her and other Black Sash staff. We arrived at the site
at around 5am where the clients had already grouped at the main gate. We introduced
ourselves, explained the reasons for our visit, provided information around grants,
distributed pamphlets, as well as advising them how they should use our helpline to
seek assistance from the Black Sash. We also interviewed clients using questionnaires.

When the service point opened we went inside to introduce ourselves and to later have
a brief discussion with the manager of the site. We wanted to know the following:

  • why client queue as early as 3am?
  • how do they deal with different grant applications?
  • which is the site’s most common grant applications processed?
  • how do they cope with such a few staff to service so many clients?
  • whether they are planning any improvements to the site.

The manager was pleased with our visit saying he had long requested the provincial office to intervene on the site and was convinced that our visit will have an influence to make them respond in time.

A meeting to reflect on our visit was held at the Black Sash office where it was decided
that a report needs to be drafted and sent to the SASSA provincial office. At the moment
our mentored monitoring organization continues to do monitoring at the site and would
be assisted accordingly in terms of advocacy actions.

The next visit would require a car to be hired, media to be drawn in and pamphlets to be
printed.