A close relative of mine recently discovered that her bank balance was near zero and that she had insufficient funds left to pay her municipal account, telephone bill, and levy fees – the combined cost of which had almost doubled in a matter of one year.
Being hard of hearing, a cancer patient, and also a sufferer of numerous other ailments normally associated with persons who are nearing the ripe old’ age of 80, she turned to me for assistance. She was totally convinced that someone had stolen funds from her bank account and that the misdeed was somehow related to a scam message she received on her cellphone a few weeks ago - announcing the news that she was the lucky winner of millions!!! “I don’t know whether I deleted the message, or not. Maybe I pushed the wrong button,” she assumed.
We plodded off together to the bank where she was relieved to discover that no fraud was committed, but that her government social grant, which she had been receiving for the past 3 years, had last made a payment on 31 July 2013.
A phone call (actually about 5 frustrating calls) to the SASSA offices in Pretoria confirmed that all deposits to banks had been suspended due to mass fraud. So, in the end – in a roundabout way fraud was the reason… The buggers didn’t even bother sending out notifications to beneficiaries; they simply suspended payments without any warning whatsoever. The original Grant Application Receipt clearly stated: “NB: You will be informed three months in advance should you need to review or complete a life certificate.”
We were advised to report to SASSA’s office in Pretoria with all the required paperwork. The mission took the best part of a full working day to accomplish, under conditions that one can only describe as total-freaking-bloody MADNESS… The scenes I witnessed in that horrid place definitely qualify as one of the most chaotic scenes I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life!
SASSA can just as well stand for South African Sloppy Service Agency… I’m quite sure wild baboons would have delivered a more competent service than those idiots working there.
To be fair though, I must mention that if it wasn’t for the kind intervention of one of SASSA’s senior officials we would probably never have sorted out the mess in one day.
BUT, this is the problem with South Africa’s government services… They employ 1000’s of incompetent people and rely on a few to keep the wheels and cogs turning (barely).
Today we returned to the disorderly scene to collect the new SASSA-branded Smart Card. I was advised by an official of SASSA to be there by 7 o’clock. We left home at 06:00 to avoid traffic and arrived there at 06:30.
The pictures and video tell the rest of the story, and also illustrate what a dump South Africa’s capital city has become.
Click on images for a larger view
|This photograph was taken at 06:52 AM and shows how the long queue had extended past c/o Pretorius and Sisulu Streets.|
Please note that some footage in the following video was deliberately blurred to protect the identities of people.