Two moms from Mitchells Plain have been struggling to renew their grants for their severely disabled children after the grant status changed to “temporary disabled” when the children in question turned 18.
Ibtisaam Clarke, from Westridge, explained that her son Mogamat Zaakir Clarke, 19, was left brain-damaged after an accident when he was 4.
Clarke had the necessary paperwork and a doctor at Red Cross assessed him. “They declared him severely permanently disabled. I also received a grant-in-aid, because I couldn’t work as I had to look after my son.”
But Clarke said as soon as her son turned 18 years, her headaches with Sassa began because she had to apply for a disability grant from scratch.
“He turned 18 in December 2020 a day before Christmas, so I had to wait for the new year to inquire. I took the original letter and another updated letter stating he’s permanently disabled.
“They couldn’t give me answers at first and kept saying I must come back next month. I got paid for April until September then I received a letter that his grant would stop because it’s a temporary grant.
“I then went and told them it was impossible because the doctor confirmed again it’s a permanent disability. Then they told me that it was procedure to first get a temporary grant and then a disability.
“I then saw Zaakir’s doctor again in October who again wrote a letter to say it’s a permanent disability. I took the letter and they said I must come back the next month. I went in December and was told to come back in January.
“In January, they said I must come back in February as they were waiting on a medical report because the letter I received from the doctor had lapsed.”
Clarke said Sassa stopped the grants this month because their system showed she only applied in 2022.
“They also told me to bring my child to the office so that they could re-assess him because it showed that he was temporarily disabled.
“I couldn’t understand what was going on because I immediately went to try and rectify it. I told them it would be a real effort to bring my boy because he eats through a pipe and cannot walk.
“I asked them to come and do a home visit, but they said they couldn’t because of Covid.”
She managed to take Zaakir to the Sassa office and an official then called her into his office.
“I told him that I was struggling, I had to borrow money, and later on sell my things… I didn’t want pity, I just wanted justice for my son.
“The worker then said he called in a favour from a Sassa doctor so that I would get paid in April, but they couldn’t help with the grant-in-aid. They also explained a Sassa doctor makes the final decision on a temporary or permanent grant.
“Its just so frustrating. I know I have to be strong. I don’t know what to do anymore.”
Another Mitchells Plain mother, whose son was born with hydroceaphulus (water on the brain), spastic cerebral palsy and cortical blindness, shared Clarke’s frustrations with Sassa.
The mother, who spoke on basis of anonymity out of fear of being victimised, said she also received a letter in September 2020 stating that her son’s grant had been suspended.
She went to the Sassa office and was also told that she needed to bring her son in. After doing so they were given an appointment with a Sassa doctor.
She then received another date to go to Sassa in October for a letter of approval. But the system was offline. “I called the next week and was told that the money is approved.”
But the woman’s relief was short-lived, because in November she received a letter saying her son’s grant would be suspended because it was a temporary grant.
“We ended up at Sassa’s office again. An official said there was nothing they could do. All I could do was to apply again in March,” she said
But now she has to wait until May to see a Sassa doctor again to try to apply for permanent grant.
“I then suggested that I go back to my child’s own doctor and got a letter from her, stating that he was permanently disabled.
“I took the letter back to the Sassa office and handed it in. So now we are hoping for a payment in April.”
Sassa failed to respond by deadline.
Black Sash Trust said there was a fair amount of backlog in the system.
According to reports, Sassa said that it met its target in March to clear lapsed disability grants.At the time, Sassa reported a backlog of 35 332 medical assessments for temporary disability grants.