The article ‘Pensioner dies waiting for grant review’ (DD, April 29). Two day after celebrating Freedom Day, these revelations about the desperate plight of grant recipients is a dreadful indicator of the sorry state of Social Development in the Eastern Cape. What does freedom mean to people for whom it is a dire struggle to get a social grant?

It seems conditions at Sassa offices elsewhere are also less than ideal. Upon visiting the area office of Sassa in Willowvale last week I found scores of elderly women who had spent the previous night sleeping on the ground, out in the cold because the staff were unable to process all the payouts. To make matters worse, these defenceless women were forced to sleep outside the perimeter fence. I was told that this is “normal” practice and happens regularly.

The purpose of social grants is part of the government’s mandate to decrease poverty and ensure the well-being of the citizens of the Eastern Cape. However, the treatment of these grant recipients is not only contrary to the dream of a better life for all, it is also inhumane and undignified.

The DA calls upon the Eastern Cape MEC for Social Development, Nonkosi Mvana, for urgent liaison with her national counterpart to ensure that the Sassa offices are sufficiently staffed and provided with proper equipment. It is equally unfair towards the Sassa-officials to work under these conditions, as it is towards the grant recipients.

Treating people like animals for the sake of a government handout is unacceptable. Our people deserve better.

Veliswa Mvenya, MPL, Bhisho

DA spokesperson on Social Development