Sassa grants save family of six from going hungry
Sipho Mabena | 2017-04-04 08:42:04.0
Pensioners queue at a South African Social Security Agency pay point in Mpumalanga
Image by: THULANI MBELE
For now‚ there is a bit of food in the cupboard for the Mbete family‚ which is entirely dependent on social security.
Anxiety struck the household of six in Winterveldt‚ north of Pretoria‚ early last month as they faced the possibility of the vital social grants not being paid out to beneficiaries on April 1.
TimesLIVE reported on the plight of the Mbetes early last month‚ when they were down to their last meal.
On Saturday morning‚ Jacob Mbete‚ the 54-year-old frail man of the house‚ breathed a sigh of relief when he received the R1‚600 disability grant he gets for TB‚ because he is too weak to work.
On Monday‚ his wife‚ Mapule‚ 44‚ said all of the money was already gone.
“Later today I am going to send my eldest daughter to withdraw (the R340 child support grant for each of her two children and her grandson). I will have to try to stretch that to cover the basics‚” she said.
Mapule‚ who is unemployed‚ said her hope was restored last month when the Constitutional Court extended the contract between the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to distribute grants.
Before then‚ she was worried that her husband and the three children would not receive anything.
“That would have resulted in a real life and death situation because that is our only income. Almost everything goes to food and other basic necessities like electricity and funeral insurance‚” she said.
The fear that grant beneficiaries could be left high and dry on April 1 was sparked by the lapsing of the contract with CPS on March 31.
Though it had declared the CPS contract invalid‚ the Constitutional Court averted the looming crisis by allowing CPS to continue to make grant payments.
The social development department was expected to take over the social grants payment or find another company to do so by end of March‚ but failed to deliver on this undertaking.
The court extended the CPS contract by 12 months. The department has to update the court every three months on progress made on the process of taking over the payments of 17-million beneficiaries.
For the time being‚ the Mbete family have just enough to feed themselves.