GEORGE MARI, MPP
THE Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal is preparing to take legal action against Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, and SASSA (South African Social Services Agency) over the refusal of hundreds of applications for Disability Grants by SASSA Medical Assessors.
The issue, which particularly affects residents of the Phoenix community in Ethekwini, has left many elderly and infirm applicants with their lives turned upside down. Applicants who have previously been assessed as unfit to work and not fit for the Open Labour Market – at clinics and hospitals that they have visited for many years and which know their medical condition and status – are now seeing these earlier medical reports ignored and rejected by SASSA Medical Assessors. Some have applied for the Disability Grant more than three times and have been refused each time. Others who have been collecting Grants for a number of years have suddenly had this funding terminated. The majority of rejected applicants have called upon the Democratic Alliance to take up their plight as they have no income and cannot support themselves – some have even had the lights and water to their homes disconnected. Many are aged and frail and cannot possibly find employment at this stage.
The DA questions the motives for SASSA Medical Assessors refusals when doctors from clinics and hospitals recommend that the Grants be approved. According to feedback from applicants, SASSA medical doctors see the applicant for approximately three minutes, do not conduct an examination, ask a few questions and reject the application. This is unacceptable.
Clearly there is a conflict and the DA believes that doctors from clinics and hospitals, along with SASSA Medical Assessors, should be subpoenaed to explain why Grants are approved or rejected. As a result, we have consulted with our Attorneys and call on all Disability Grant applicants to visit the DA offices in Phoenix with a copy of their medical assessments to enable us to take the matter to court.