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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SAHRC to meet with Sassa leadership over 'despicable' scenes at Bellville office

18 January 2021

Grant applicants, including the elderly and people with disabilities, were sprayed with water cannons while queueing to get help on Friday.

There have been long queues outside various South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) offices in Cape Town as some beneficiaries reapply for temporary disability grants that were suspended last month.

Rights groups say that thousands of vulnerable beneficiaries who are sleeping outside in overcrowded queues outside Sassa offices are facing an increased risk of contracting Covid-19.

On Friday, public order police were brought in to the offices to assist with crowd management.

The SAHRC's Western Cape commissioner Chris Nissen says the use of water cannons on Friday was inhumane and unforgivable.

He says Sassa's lack of preparation and queue management has led to congested queues.

Nissen will meet with Sassa's regional executive manager Bandile Maqetuka on Tuesday to address his concerns and a number of complaints received over the past two weeks.

    We condemn what has happened on Friday - that vulnerable, poor people who are desperate just to make a living and what something to put bread on the table can be targeted by the police.
    Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

    It's inhumane and unforgivable. Those who did it must be held accountable.
    Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

    Where are the marshalls that must come out and ensure that people keep the distance and give people the assurance that they will be assisted? Some of these people are there since 4am and they are worried about losing their place.
    Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

    I think it's despicable that our people should be treated like that by Sassa and then on top of that being hosed down.
    Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

    The police came in because Sassa failed to have a queue management process in place.
    Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

Source: Cape Talk

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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