Northdale residents were forced to travel to the Pietermaritzburg CBD for their Sassa applications after the offices based at the Civic Centre had to be closed last week.
This was after staff members received threats through WhatsApp messages and WhatsApp phone calls.
Sassa’s communication and marketing official Sandy Godlwana said they noticed an irregular trend in disability grants’ intake in the office and introduced intervention strategies to address this.
She added that a case was opened at the Mountain Rise police station.
Residents who had been using the offices to apply for their disability grant had to go to another office in Pietermaritz Street in the CBD, or apply online. Ward councillor Rooksana Ahmed said some residents approached her after they were sent away from the Civic Centre.
“I contacted a manager at Sassa and she said there was a security problem at the office. The department’s head office then took a decision to suspend disability applications while they discussed the issue. Last week, they said people can apply online,” said Ahmed.
She said they tried to assist residents in applying for their disability grants online at her office. They were, however, unable to get dates for the application and residents were forced to go to the office in Pietermaritz Street, she said.
“Residents had to pay bus fair and walk through Pietermaritz Street, which is really scary for people mostly elderly because of pickpocketing. Sassa should’ve got more security for their staff if there was an issue and call for an investigation with the Saps.”
Ahmed said at least 30 people were using the office to apply for their disability grants and a number of people relied on the grant.
She said residents were left with no options but to go to Pietermaritzburg, because the online applications were not working.
Godlwana said they were satisfied with the security measures they have at their office and their security company was contracted to provide security services every day for 24 hours.
“We will collaborate with the police to ensure that all those who subject our officials to such threats are brought to book. The public can also report any suspicious acts to our toll free number 0800 60 10 11 or contact 033 846 3400,” added Godlwana.