sassa gugulethu

Watch: SASSA beneficiaries spend the night in queues [video]

Posted by Andile Sicetsha

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) offices in Gugulethu, Cape Town, have, for a long time, been under the spotlight for poor administration.

On social media, video footage of large crowds gathered outside the premises, waiting to receive their monthly stipend, made the rounds, sparking fears of a superspreader event that could see a spike in Covid-19 infections in the Cape Flats township.

Watch: Gugulethu SASSA beneficiaries sleep outside

Newzroom Afrika reporter Athi Mthongana was on-site, at the SASSA offices, on Wednesday morning, where hundreds of beneficiaries who were not assisted yesterday, woke up from their slumber to occupy a place in the long queue.

For observers watching the above video, this is a gross human rights violation. However, from the perspective of the SASSA beneficiaries, it’s a part of surviving a life of poverty at the mercy of the government.

Gugulethu branch under the spotlight once again

This isn’t the first time an event of this nature has been witnessed outside the SASSA branch, in Gugulethu. The offices have been closed multiple times since the start of the pandemic, due to positive cases reported by staff members.

As seen in the video above, there is no system in place to observe health and safety protocols. Beneficiaries are allowed to gather in large numbers without adhering to social distancing, and there’s no enforcement of mask-wearing.

In May 2020, the branch came under fire after a series of positive Covid-19 tests were reported by staff members who accused the office’s management of neglecting their cries.

“Firstly, this building is not safe to operate from; there are electrical cables moving across the floor from one wall to the other. No glass to separate us from the clients and as you have seen, desks stacked up one on top of the other. The whole office is a ticking Covid-19 time bomb just waiting to explode,” one employee had told Weekend Argus at the time.

By the looks of it, not much has changed. The Department of Social Development had not responded to our questions at the time this article was published.