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Cape Town – Sikelelwa Tomase, a Khayelitsha mother of two young children, has again remained financially destitute after failing to receive a letter from inside Sassa to process her application for child benefit.
Tomase said she was told in 2018 that she could not apply for the scholarship because she did not have an ID and had to apply for one first.
She has yet to get ID despite the fact that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) sent an officer to escort her to the Interior Ministries in Khayelitsha to verify the information she submitted in support of the application.
“In December I was told to receive a letter from the Home Office with the status of my application.
“I was told that the person in charge is on leave and that I will be contacted later. So far I have not been contacted.
“I still can’t enroll my children in school at the age of 6 and 8 because they don’t have a birth certificate.
“I would have used the social grant to send them to school,” said Tomase
She received the scholarship for three months last year – from October to December – after the intervention for the children’s institute and the Legal Resources Center.
But last month the grant stopped.
The organizations say that even in cases where Sassa was presented with the birth registration application, some grants were canceled after three months, forcing the caregiver to re-apply.
The Children’s Institute and Legal Resources Center say the system should put a strain on home affairs and social development to prioritize processing of children’s birth certificates.
A senior legal researcher at the institute, Paula Proudlock, said the organization had brought Sassa’s attention to the problem for more than two years.
“We do not want to have to take the matter to court, but will take this route if this is necessary for the well-being of our customers,” said Proudlock.
Under pressure from the organizations, Sassa reinstated maintenance grants for thousands of children this month after she was given notice in late December.
The reinstatement was dated back to January and will last for the duration of the disaster.
Proudlock said child support is the only means of survival for many.
“These are grandmas who look after orphaned or abandoned children, mothers without ID or birth certificates, and unmarried fathers who look after children whose mothers have died or disappeared.
“These are the very children that the Department of Social Development is supposed to provide extra support, but instead they are taking away their social grants – literally their only means of survival,” Proudlock said.
After another intervention by the Children’s Institute, Sassa agreed that Tomase would be paid for her two daughters on March 5th.
However, Tomase’s battle for ID since 2016 was far from over.
According to Sassa, up to 16,000 children without a birth certificate received the scholarship in October.
“This permanent termination of the grant is illegal as it is not authorized by either the Social Welfare Act or its regulation.
“However, since 2009, Sassa has imposed a three-month limit on receiving grants from children without a birth certificate during which a birth registration application must be submitted to Home Affairs.
“If a nurse does not provide a birth certificate or proof of submission of a birth certificate, Sassa will terminate the scholarship after three months,” said the children’s institute.
Sisanda Nkondlo said her children’s scholarships ended in December, and after numerous inquiries and visits to Sassa’s offices, she was only told this week that she had to reapply.