Residents of Chatsworth receiving Sassa grants have welcomed the news of a WhatsApp line opened by the agency in KwaZulu-Natal to streamline complaints, fraud issues among others.

Thobeka Zondi, from Bottlebrush, was over joyed at not having to frequent the agency’s office in Durban. She said: “The queues are always too long. You wait inline for hours, just report or get one thing sorted. No more.”

The young mother of two, said she had struggled on some occasions to find child care so she can go to Sassa offices.

“You never want to take the kids with you because you never know how long you will be. What Sassa has done for us is amazing, I can’t wait to try it and use it. It will save on transport money for so many people,” Zondi said.

The streamlining of Sassa was also applauded by the Inkatha Freedom Party in KZN. IFP Spokesperson on Social Development, Les Govender, said he tested the service himself and press with quick response and efficiency he had received.

He said: “I commend Sassa in KZN for this initiative whereby people can send queries to 071 607 1514 (WhatsApp only) or they can call 033 846 3400 for assistance. I tested this service and found that it is easy to use and there was efficient response from the official who answered my call. I would encourage people with queries to make use of this service and even request home visits by Sassa officials for those who are frail or too sick to go to the post office to get assistance.”

The move by Sassa to quickly act on fraud comes following the announcement of the seizure of 6 000 payments, in a move to combat the prevalent grant fraud targeting social grants. Sassa in a statement confirmed the figure has since gone down substantially to 500 in the August payment cycle.

Govender said many grant recipients are being defrauded by having unauthorised deductions made from their monthly grants and they do not report such cases because they are unable to go to a Sassa office or a post office.

“I would encourage people with queries to make use of this service and even request home visits by Sassa officials for those who are frail or too sick to go to the post office to get assistance. This is a welcome initiative which will hopefully help to root out illicit activities within the social grant system and protect grant recipients from corrupt individuals who prey on those who are most vulnerable,” he said.

By the middle of this year, almost 21 000 fraud cases had been reported to the South African Post Office countrywide.