SASSA Reopens Service Point in Vredenburg: Addressing Increased Grant Applications. The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has made the decision to reopen a service point in Vredenburg, situated within the Saldanha Bay Municipality. This move comes in response to a surge in the number of grant applications, as disclosed by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu while addressing questions from GOOD Party MP Brett Herron.
Community Access Challenges and Solutions
Highlighting the challenges faced by approximately 250 individuals from Hopefield, who were unable to reach the Sassa office in Vredenburg, Herron emphasized the lack of assurance for those seeking assistance without a prior appointment. Sassa, acknowledging the importance of extending services to communities facing accessibility issues, has taken proactive steps.
In response to Herron’s inquiry on ensuring proper advice and services for those in Hopefield, Minister Zulu outlined the demographic context. With a population of 154,635 in the Saldanha Bay Municipality, as per Census 2022, spread across eight major towns, the challenges were compounded by staffing issues.
Staffing Challenges and Office Closure
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the Vredenburg office had 10 grant administrators divided into two teams, serving Vredenburg and associated points. Over the past two years, the office experienced a loss of 14 officials due to various reasons. Unfortunately, a National Treasury moratorium on filling vacant positions led to the closure of the office.
Reopening on Appointment Basis
In response to the growing number of applicants, Sassa opted to reopen the Vredenburg service point on an appointment basis, proving to be an effective approach.
Accessible Service Points within a 25km Radius
Zulu confirmed Sassa’s policy, ensuring that a service point is accessible within a 25km radius. To address the needs of the community, Sassa collaborated with the Saldanha Bay Municipality, allowing clients in Hopefield to utilize the Hopefield Thusong Centre for free access to the Sassa online application system with the assistance of the center manager.
Alternative Banking Solutions and Home Visits
For beneficiaries in Hopefield who switched to other banks but have not received payments, Zulu mentioned that social grants could still be accessed using their Postbank card. Additionally, Sassa conducts home visits for frail or sick clients who are unable to visit the offices, with requests typically initiated through the local office.