Sassa pensions come through at last for desperate elderly folk

LONG QUEUE TO FREEDOM: An elderly women waits for her state pension in a queue at a Sassa paypoint. A group of Bay pensioners who had not been paid for two months have now received their pensions
LONG QUEUE TO FREEDOM: An elderly women waits for her state pension in a queue at a Sassa paypoint. A group of Bay pensioners who had not been paid for two months have now received their pensions
Image: MARK ANDREWS

Elderly Echo Foundation residents who did not receive their state pensions for two months, causing considerable anxiety and hardship, have been paid at last — but now another group faces the same problem.

Echo Foundation CEO Ken Keen said on Monday that the 80 residents who had not received their South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) pensions since September had been sorted out.

“They received their grants on time at the beginning of November together with back pay, so that was all good.

“But now there are another 30 different residents who have found themselves in the same boat.

“We have compiled a schedule with all their personal details and will be hand-delivering it to the local Sassa office this afternoon to try to get it sorted out.”

Asked in October about the plight of the first group of Echo residents, Sassa spokesperson Luzuko Qina said the non-payment was related to bank verification processes that needed to be finalised.

Bank verification of the affected beneficiaries — which was done monthly to avert fraud —  had, however, been completed and payments would be made during the next payment cycle, beginning on November 1.

The department did not respond to requests for comment on Monday about the other 30 pensioners have not been paid.

Explaining the fraught situation in October, Keen said many of the residents whose Sassa pensions had not been deposited had struggled without food or support from family and some were anxious that they could not paid their rent.

Echo Foundation social services manager Joey Lohuis said an increasing number of elderly parents and grandparents were relying on state grants because their children and grandchildren had lost their jobs due to the faltering economy.

The foundation’s general manager, Lillian Swanepoel, said it had helped 30 residents through its benevolent fund but that this was not a sustainable solution.

Methodist Homes manager Hein Barnard said the Sassa payment problem in the Bay reflected the plight of elderly people in suburbs and townships across SA  who had no platform to air their concerns.

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