Government must protect the poor

MAHIKENG MAIL – MAHIKENG – The abuse of social grants in South Africa is so widely spread across the country that it will take authorities years to finally find an end to this worrisome scourge.

While a few business owners might be fair in their dealings with beneficiaries of social grants, hundreds of them would be found wanting should government go on a “Clean-up” campaign to rid the department of social development of these unscrupulous business people.

We are being told, in ongoing media and police reports and investigations that the system (social grants development) itself is fraught with corrupt officials who are milking the department of millions of rands annually using various sophisticated scams.

Business owners who have found loopholes in the social grant system have shifted their corrupt and fraudulent ways onto the unsuspecting grant recipients robbing them of thousands of rands in the process.

These thugs “loan” money to and offer the unsuspecting social grand beneficiaries the opportunity to buy groceries on account which money they claim by using the Pin number of the card holder taking interests which runs up to and over 30 to 40 percent in the process.

North West MEC for Social Development, Fenny Gaolaolwe on Thursday confiscated 47 SASSA cards from a shop owner at Madipelesa village outside Pampierstad during a Setsokotsane drive.

While Gaolaolwe conducted a door-to-door visit in the area to deliver grocery hampers and blankets to the elderly, she entered a house of a pensioner and asked her to produce her pension card. When the pensioner failed to produce the card she openly told Gaolaolwe that her pension card including those of other residents in the area are being kept by a local shop owner.

“It is unlawful for the shop owner to keep SASSA cards. A grant recipient is the only person who may use the SASSA card. You may not transfer the SASSA card, or authorise any other person to use the card. This card remains the property of government,” Gaolaolwe said, after the shop owner handed the card to the police who received a tip from her.

“Like the provincial government, we strongly condemn this practice as call on government to fully educate our people and warn them against these tricksters who will stop at nothing to rob the poor and illiterate.

Comment by Bobby Saul of 13 Martin Street, Galleria Arcade, Mafikeng.