Our THORN for the day must definately go to the South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) in Durban.
We received the following story from one of our readers:
“My Mom wanted to change her banking details with SASSA, so I went onto their website to get some contact details and an address for their offices in Durban. On their website, they have a toll free number, which when you phone, you either manage to get through to an operator or are advised by an automated voice message that the operators are currently busy so you must phone back. We also tried the number for the Durban office, but had no luck there either. That was only the beginning of it!
As there is no physical address for the Durban office, we looked in the telephone directory for assistance. We managed to locate a few branches in the Durban area and as my Mom lives in Hillcrest, we tried the Pinetown branch first. On phoning them, the operator advised my Mom to phone back the next day as she did not know what their office address is. My Mom phoned back the next day and was told the same story. When she asked to speak to someone in charge, she was advised that there was no one there.
After making several calls to other branches in the Durban area, all of which were unanswered, we eventually got through to the Chatsworth branch. The operator gave us the address for the Durban central branch which is based in Stanger Street. When we arrived there, we were shocked at the condition of the building. It was absolutely filthy and looked as though no-one had cleaned it in ages. There is no signage in the building and we had to ask a number of people where to go. Whilst waiting in a queue, we chatted to some people who told my Mom that she had to re-apply for a SASSA card. When my Mom first applied for the pension, she was not living in Durban and hence would not have received any information pertaining to this. After finding out where we had to be, we waited in the queue for 30 minutes and then advised that we were in the wrong queue. Enough for one day!
The next day, we arrived at their offices at 05h00 to find a whole queue of people (some of whom had actually slept outside their offices), waiting to get in. After waiting there for a few hours, we were advised that we were in the wrong building and had to go to their building at Carlisle Street. By now, we were very frustrated and headed off to the next office. When we arrived, there was no signage outside the building and we had to enquire from the people in the queue as to where we needed to be. This building was at least in a better condition than the first one. Again, there was a long queue of people waiting to be helped. The problem with this system is that you wait in one queue to get a piece of paper with your details on, then to a second queue to get your card and then to a third queue to get a pin number. Why can this not all be done in one queue?
As there are a lot of people who travel from afar to get theirs sorted out, the Ethekwini Municipality really needs to jack up their systems, services and facilities!”