'Millions of vulnerable people' let down by grant payment glitch: SAHRC
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has expressed concern about the circumstances surrounding the provision of social grants to senior citizens and people with disabilities on Monday.
"Millions of vulnerable people expected to receive their monthly grants but were confronted with a myriad of challenges created by a reported system failure or glitch, which resulted in the non-payment of grants," the commission said in a statement.
"To exacerbate the situation, a large proportion of these people were constrained to stand or sit in long queues during the Covid-19 lockdown - reportedly without adhering to social distancing guidelines, which placed them under considerable health risks."
The commission said it was concerned with the lack of care taken by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to ensure the timely payment of social grants.
"Of particular concern is the recurrence of such challenges over the last few years. The commission hopes that adequate measures will be taken by the department of social development and Sassa to ensure that grants are provided to persons with disabilities and older persons in a timely fashion and that such circumstances as occurred yesterday do not occur again in the future," it said.
"The department of social development should further hold those responsible accountable."
The commission has called on the government to take action and "effectively" address the recurring mistreatment of vulnerable people during payments of social grants.
The latest incident, the commission said, was but one of many that pointed to significant shortfalls in the capacity of service providers to effectively provide social grants to the most vulnerable.
"Over 5 million older persons and persons with disability are recipients of grants in South Africa. While the commission appreciates and welcomes the recently announced increases, it notes that the grant amount is still not enough to alleviate the levels of poverty experienced by older persons and persons with disabilities, who are considered to be among the chronically poor, and who are often responsible for taking care of themselves in addition to many in their families who depend on them for survival.
"Section 27 of the constitution provides that everyone has the right to have access to social security - and if they are unable to support themselves and their dependents, to appropriate social assistance. The provision (or lack) of social grants has an impact on other significant human rights, including food, clothing, housing, health and education, among others."