Public Protector Pays Unannounced Visit to SASSA Service Centre

Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela on Wednesday paid an unannounced visit to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria during a spot-check on government service delivery points.

The unannounced visit, which formed part of the activities of the Public Protector Good Governance Week, followed a public lecture the Public Protector delivered at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) earlier in the day.

At SASSA offices the Public Protector interacted with members of the public queuing for services. Though the majority of the people were satisfied with the service they had received, some complained about waiting for too long before they could be attended to and repeatedly being sent back home to fetch missing documents.

An elderly woman, who had been queuing since 08:30 for a foster care grant application and by 14:00 she was yet to be given attention, complained that she was spending a lot on taxi fare as she was repeatedly forced to go home without having been helped.

However, other members of the public told the Public Protector that they had no complaints as they were being treated with respect and that officials were responsive to their needs. Talking to the manager of the office, the Public Protector said her visit was not a fault-finding mission but to merely check on how ordinary people were being served by organs of state.

“The majority of the of the people we interacted with were happy but as always there are a few gaps here and there that need a bit of controls and quality assurance. The idea is to help you grow in excellence,” she said.

She urged members of the community not to hesitate to approach her office in the event they had complaints relating to government services and conduct, including problems with applications for social grants, housing and identity documents as well as suspected acts of corruption.

During the Public Lecture at TUT, the Public Protector told students that government stood a better chance of delivering a better life to the people as promised in the constitution if it dealt decisively with maladministration, unethical governance and corruption.

She said South Africa was a modern democracy, which based on a constitutional rather than parliamentary supremacy. She further stated that democracy was about ongoing dialogue between those entrusted with public power and control over state resources.

“Modern democracy is not just about casting a vote once every five years and waiting for what happens at the end of the channel. We have a constitution that promises us a better life and serves as a bridge to a better society,” the Public Protector said.

She challenged students to come up with solutions to the country's challenges, which included the growing levels of unemployment among young people in particular, inequalities between the rich and the poor and a growing economy that was not matched by the absorption of the unemployed into the job market.

She discouraged public protests in favour of active citizenship through direct and indirect dialogue with government in pursuit of good governance. The lecture also formed part of the Good Governance Week, which aims to enhance access to Public Protector Services while promoting good governance in state affairs.

Issued by: Public Protector South Africa. For more information, contact:
Oupa Segalwe
Manager: Outreach, Education and Communication
Public Protector South Africa
Tel: 012 366 7035
Cell: 072 264 3273

Published Date: 
Wednesday, October 19, 2011