The impact of the shortfall of funds on disabled people through fraudulent deductions from their grants is particularly offensive and immoral due to the disproportionately high costs of seeking recourse, if they are able to do so at all.
The Black Sash was alerted to the challenges faced by one such, Mr. Kalam, (pictured) when a concerned community resident called in to Voice of the Cape Radio in August 2014. He is a blind person receiving a disability grant from the State through his SASSA Bank Card.
When Black Sash's Elroy Paulus visited him in September 2014 at the home of Ms Shahida Daniels, a friend and caregiver in Woodstock Cape Town, we learnt that an average amount of R200 per month had been deducted for airtime and electricity (that he had not authorised or requested) from his disability grant over 2 months.
After several unsuccessful attempts to get clarity from visits to CPS and SASSA offices in Cape Town, he finally turned to the media to share his challenge. SASSA Western Cape was able to block the cell phone making the deductions from his account for alleged and false airtime and electricity claims.
A local organisation that pays a stipend for his transport costs were helpful - but that he he said that he sometimes "saved" the taxi fare to make ends meet, and walked home instead - this in an area that has significant traffic flow in an urbanised and industrial area of Cape Town.
Mr. Kalam was able, through his own efforts and the assistance of Mrs. Daniels (also in the picture) to finally ensure that no further deductions came off his account. And he received the entire grant in October 2014. His plight also reached national news on SA television and his story and experience will hopefully inspire others to do the same.
We commend Mr. Kalam and Mrs Daniels who spoke this truth to power and encouraged them to remain vigilant and inform others in the local community about their experience, as well as those who made an effort to block these deductions.