Stories from the Field

Victory for Adelaide community - SASSA office to re-open

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The community of Adelaide in the rural Eastern Cape met this week with the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). They wanted to know why the local SASSA office was closed as this has led to tremendous hardship for vulnerable older people and mothers who must now travel long distances to receive their money and to query irregularities.

After intensive engagement over the past months, senior staff of the Black Sash and the Alliance for Community Advice Offices of South Africa (ACAOSA) attended the meeting to support the Adelaide Advice office to hold government to account. Dianne Dunkerly and Mark Rasmussen represented SASSA National and SASSA EC, whilst DDG Thokozani Magwaza represented Department of Social Development.

A petition with more than 300 signatures was submitted to the government delegation. After deliberations, it was agreed to re-open the Adelaide SASSA office by 2 May 2014. The Adelaide Advice office will monitor this process.


Black Sash participates in panel discussion on SABC 1 on Human Rights Day

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Black Sash was part of a panel discussion on *Yilungelo Lakho on SABC 1, 21 March 2014. The focus was on Consumer Rights as part of celebrating Human Rights Month and Consumer Awareness Month.
*Yilungelo Lakho (every Friday at 1pm) aims to inform and educate consumers on their rights and provide them with guidance.

Pictured from left  to right: Ms. Ouma Ramaru from the Consumer Goods and Services Ombuds, Black Sash's Plaatjie Mashego, Mr. Morris Maluleke from the National Credit Regulator, and the Yilungelo Lakho anchor, Asanda.

Black Sash KZN discusses Child Maintenance on Ukhosi FM

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Jerome March 2014The Black Sash KZN Regional Office,  ably represented by Jerome Bele, participated in a call-in radio show (in Zulu) on Child Maintenance on Ukhozi Fm on 19 March. The focus of the discussion was where the father of the child wants to dictate the method of payment of the Maintenance to the mother. Fathers who do not want to pay monthly sums to mothers were requesting that they pay for specified items (such as school fees, medical care, travel to school, uniforms etc) on a month-to-month basis.

Jerome explained that all arrangements related to Child Maintenance should be heard before the Maintenance Courts where the father’s means could be investigated in line with the needs of the Child and the arrangement should be reduced to writing and therefore be enforceable should the father breach the contract. Callers-in seemed quite defensive and wanted fathers to be able to dictate what monies should be paid, and when. However, if this is not regulated by the Maintenance Court and there is a breach, the mother will be forced to go to court and start the entire process from scratch while the child suffers undue prejudice and harm.
Look out for future slots on Ukhozi Fm by the KZN Black Sash Team on Illegal Deductions from SASSA beneficiaries; The Voice Recognition Process for SASSA beneficiaries, and our Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health project.

Launch of the SAHRC's "Report on the Right to Access Sufficient Water and Decent Sanitation in South Africa: 2014" - 11 March 2014

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Elroy AWETHU SAHRC Report Response Mar 2014Since 2010, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has held 9 Provincial and 2 National hearings on water and sanitation rights (and violations) in South Africa. This culminating report, a mandated responsibility of the SAHRC for Parliament, highlighted the need for us to examine whether an "indigency policy" is indeed a Right - or in fact a major limitation for people seeking support from the State (whether nationally or locally).

The SAHRC chose, this time, to table and publically launch their report shortly after the 2014 Budget Speech. Approximately 80 people were in attendance, with representatives supported to attend at the request and cost of the SAHRC. The tabling of the Report in this manner marks a radical break from former processes to table similar reports. There were direct testimonies from affected persons, analyses by experts, and calls for the acceptance of these reports by politicians.

Black Sash's Elroy Paulus was asked to respond on behalf of Awethu Platform for Social Change. 

Read the SAHRC Report

Read the AWETHU Platform for Social Change response

Black Sash KZN Presents on Social Grant Protection at Community Forum

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IMG 0160The erosion of the social security system in South Africa was the theme of a presentation by Evashnee Naidu, Black Sash KZN Regional Manager, at a recent forum hosted by Medical Research Council (MRC) and info4africa Forum.

Evashnee's  presentation gave information of a very critical nature in terms of the grant system in South Africa. She covered problems such as rejections for grant applications, and unlawful deductions that have arisen from new processes that were implemented and are now seriously affecting applications for grants. She also took participants through the full process of applying for a grant at a South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office.

As participants were from the social welfare sector, their engagement around the challenges discussed reflected their own sector’s attempts to address several problems and the blockages that prevent beneficiaries from truly accessing their Social Security Rights.

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