No lights, no photocopier, broken toilets: the SASSA office in Mokopane is a mess

Agency moved into “temporary” offices more than a year ago

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There is only one toilet for grant beneficiaries to use and it does not flush. Photos: Bernard Chiguvare

In November 2021 the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) moved into shabby temporary offices in the Mokopane municipal hall in Limpopo. More than a year later, social grant beneficiaries are still being served from a small dark room, with erratic lighting, spotty internet, and no photocopier. Outside, there is a toilet which doesn’t flush.

Nine people work in the office. Throughout 2021 and 2022, there were no bulbs in the lamps. The lights were only fixed on Monday 6 February.

Ventilation in the room is very poor, there is no air conditioning, no filing system and no way to make photocopies. There are metal chairs in the waiting area but many clients have to stand or sit on the pavement.

There is a single toilet in the bushes outside the hall, for men and women. The flush system is broken. Nearby are rubbish bins full of water, which clients have to use to wash their hands and to flush the toilet. Some don’t bother to flush. There are visible cracks in the walls and grass is growing on the roof.

“I rarely use that toilet. I would rather walk 5km to town in search of a public toilet,” said Rebecca Galance who had come to register her four-month-old for a child support grant.

She was at the office by 7:30am and was served around 12:30pm.

SASSA officials say the internet is unreliable, which results in delays. Clients who need to photocopy documents and get them certified have to walk 5km to the nearest photocopy machine. “This really affects our services to the clients as we send them back and forth to put their documents in order,” said a SASSA official.

The Public Servants Association in Limpopo has complained about the working conditions of SASSA staff.

SASSA moved into temporary offices in Mokopane in November 2021. It is still there.

Themba Dubazana, General Manager Corporate Services, SASSA acknowledged that the offices are in poor condition. “These are just temporary offices. The initial arrangement was to occupy the offices for only six months but we failed to secure any permanent offices.”

Dubazana told GroundUp that the Department of Public Works had offered SASSA a building but the building has not been used for a long time so it needs to be renovated. “By the beginning of April this year our officers should be occupying the renovated offices,” he said.

Renovations have not yet started.

TOPICS:  Social Grants

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