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Sassa strike falls flat

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The ZF Mgcawu district saw only 10 officials in Upington staying away, but all other offices were fully operational

GLITCH: Nehawu members yesterday protested outside the offices of SASSA in Du Toitspan Road. Picture: Danie van der Lith

SEVERAL South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) offices in the Northern Cape were affected by the National Education Health and Allied Workers (Nehawu) strike which started yesterday, although disruptions were reported to be minimal.

Sassa provincial spokesperson, Inno Khunou, said some employees in the Province were prevented by protestors from performing their duties.

Khunou said that in the Namaqua district all employees reporting for duty at the Calvinia local office but were prevented from entering the premises by Nehawu members, who locked the gates.

In the Pixley Ka Seme district, all staff at the local offices as well as the district office, reported for work.

The ZF Mgcawu district saw only 10 officials in Upington staying away, but all other offices were fully operational.

In the Frances Baard district, offices in Beaconsfield, Florianville, Roodepan, Ritchie, Warrenton, Pampierstad and Hartswater were open and operating as usual.

At the Tlhokomelo local office in Galeshewe, 14 officials were absent. The office, however, was open and was manned by two officials and employees of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

In the John Taolo Gaetsewe district, the Mothibistad officials were intimidated and removed from their offices. Some of the officials then moved to the district office to render services. The Ga-Segonyane local office was also fully operational after police were called in.

Khunou added that pickets at the regional office in Kimberley were also minimal.

“It was business as usual at the regional office in Du Toitspan Road in Kimberley, despite some Nehawu members picketing in front of the building and burning a tyre to block the basement parking entrance.

“They also threw an egg at a manager who was reporting for duty. The police were called and the small crowd was dispersed,” she said.

Khunou said the strike stemmed from an internal disagreement on the biometric enrolment of beneficiaries.

“Enrolments were previously done manually as part of the grant application process, where ink and a pad was used to put a beneficiary’s fingerprints on the form. When Sassa entered into a contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) back in 2012, the ink, pad and paper were replaced with digital capturing, called biometric enrolment.

“Sassa discontinued the manual process to avert duplicating the process,” she said.

Members of Nehawu gathered in front of the regional offices yesterday and vowed to embark on an indefinite strike if their demands are not met.

The provincial secretary of Nehawu, Steffen Cornelius, said the system was not accurate and operations could not be conducted until the matter has been solved.

“The system is flawed and that is why we want a national shutdown. We want the community to join us in this fight as they are directly affected by this system. There have been several technical glitches where people cannot be registered as beneficiaries due to the system. We will intensify our strike action until the matter has been addressed,” said Cornelius.