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MAVC Welkom 1014

Kalie Senyane and community monitors from the Justice and Peace Commission spent a successful few days monitoring service delivery  as part of the * MAVC (Making all Voices Count) project at the Welkom Clinic. Here are edited samples from his emails to the Black Sash recounting the experience.

"I had a pleasant meeting with the clinic manager. She said she would really welcome the stakeholders meetings as it will help them a lot to know what needs to be done and way forward. She requested ...that after the whole monitoring, she hopes we will help them and not just compile a report and do nothing. They are tired of the province not taking them seriously"
"All went according to plan. Amazingly more women wanted to participate and the clinic manager surprisingly, also asked me to bring more women than men. She believes women should be more developed in terms of monitoring."
Tomorrow we have to do another set of 150 questionnaires. Hopefully by Wednesday we will have completed our 300 target and by Friday all will have been punched into the system.

We received complaints from patients which I don't know how to tackle.... we just noted them and we will see in later stages how Justice & Peace and Black Sash can deal with this issues."

"After today we have completed +/- 293 questionnaires. It took us 4 working days to achieve the milestone. I am really happy with the support I received during tough times and thank all of you for being patient with Justice and Peace Commission.

The facility operational manager was pleased to have us around and she even extended our work, to interact more with patients and even pleaded with us to help identify people who could possibly form a new clinic committee. She has also extended an invitation to us to attend that meeting, the day the committee is going to be formed.

Generally patients were happy that we have graced the facility as they are being served in time, with good attitude, and a well mannered way shown by the staff. ...The staff was generally welcoming, cooperative, friendly, polite and generous with their time. No single day we had any problems with them. The facility services too many people and they under staffed, but they never neglected their duties."


ON .

 In February 2015, Black Sash Eastern Cape held a successful workshop with the Interchurch LDA in Uitenhage to prepare for the Making all Voices Count Dialogues to take place soon.

ec mavc ilda cycle 1 dialogue composite

Challenges were identified, and an improvement plan for SASSA Uitenhage was developed. A joint committee comprising of mainly women was set up. The committee was given Norms and Standards as well as copies of the Batho Pele principles in order to measure and assess progress made in the implementation of the activities in an Implementation Plan.


The Black Sash welcomes the decision by the Competition Commission to lay charges against Mr Arthur Ellis Barnett, Managing Executive of Adcock Ingram Critical Care (Pty) Ltd (AICC), for committing offences in terms of sections 72(b) and 73(2)(d) of the Competition Act and committing the common law crime of perjury.

The Black Sash has long argued that the conspicuous absence of the fear of prosecution has lead to a sense of impunity and a perpetuation of the status quo: namely, the continued collusion and price-fixing with perhaps just ‘cleverer’ ways to hide it in the future.

The decision of the Competition Commission to lay charges against Mr Arthur Ellis Barnett is a move in the right direction and will ensure that there is a deterrent for businesses and business managers thinking of colluding to increase their profits. The move also sets a precedence that individuals responsible for collusive practices in South Africa will be identified and brought to book, hopefully bringing an end to these unethical practices.

There is more than an abstract principle at stake. The Black Sash is particularly concerned about collusive behaviour when it affects the basic goods and services provided to poor and vulnerable members of our society.  It is important to unpack and begin to understand the impact that these collusive practices have on the ability of the civil society and government to render essential services to the poor at an affordable price.

The Black Sash will be making a submission to the Competition Tribunal on Friday, 30 May 2008, when the Commission is planning to ratify the fine of R53 million against AICC. In our submission we will be enquiring whether it is conceivable that only one of many directors of AICC was aware of, and involved in, the collusion. We will be asking the tribunal not to close the matter by ratifying the consent agreement.

As a mother, I am horrified to think of the pain endured by the 70 000 families in South Africa each year that lose a child before their fifth birthday (‘Our children are dying in droves’, Cape Times 22nd August).

As National Director of the Black Sash, I know that this grief is a consequence of our society’s reluctance to deal with the full extent of poverty. I endorse Professors’ Sanders and Reynolds statement, “the suffering and death of thousands of small children reflect a yawning gap between our constitutional and human rights obligations and our nation’s well-being.”

As an organisation that works to make human rights real, the Black Sash can testify to the fact that the poorest families find it most difficult to access welfare provision. Our evidence of this will be presented to the Pretoria High Court on Friday (24 August) by the Alliance for Children’s Entitlement to Social Security (ACESS).

In addition to the difficulties around accessing the Child Support Grant, there are serious problems with the dilution of the benefit. Whole families are being forced to scrape by on the money intended for their care. With our high unemployment rate and low wages, an untenable number of South Africans are relying on the grant to survive. The Black Sash believes that the only way to protect the benefit given to children, is to provide some form of financial assistance to the adults that care for them.

We urgently need a comprehensive social security plan for the unemployed and working poor. If we are not prepared to invest in our people now, we will be forced to pay the price of our neglect later and the number of children who die as a result of poverty will continue to increase.



For Immediate Release: Friday, 24 July 2009

The Black Sash welcomes the report released yesterday by Stats SA that considers the effects of social grants on vulnerable and poor households in South Africa. Their general findings support our long-held belief that income support has important and positive developmental consequences as well as a significant impact on alleviating poverty and inequality.

However, we must not lose sight of the harsh reality that those who receive grants are still desperately poor and are battling to provide basic food and shelter for their families. According to the stats, 60% of households in which someone is receiving a grant, live on less than R1100 a month, illustrating the devastating impact of the high levels of unemployment and poverty in our country. Currently our grant system only supports children, the aged and the disabled. Surely we must consider extending some form of income support to the unemployed and working poor in South Africa?

Lack of Service Delivery

The Black Sash is also deeply disturbed by the findings that “grant recipients are significantly less likely to have access to basic services than non-grant recipients.” 30% fewer still do not have access to a flushed toilet and 20% fewer don’t have piped tap water in their house or yard. What this means is that the basic quality of life of those receiving grants is still unacceptably low.  Along with other South Africans, the Black Sash is watching the increase in service delivery and poverty protests with growing concern. As a society, we need to face up to the fact that fifteen years into democracy, many people are not yet able to live in dignity, and that their patience is running out.

Low uptake of grants

The Black Sash is concerned that the up-take of social grants is still so low. According to the stats, nearly a third of low-earning households who are eligible, are still not receiving a social grant. This is especially prevalent in marginalised communities and indicates that government needs to do so much more to ensure social security is extended to our most vulnerable members of society.

Extension of Child Support Grant

The Black Sash would also like to reiterate our call on government to extend the Child Support Grant to all children under the age of 18. The Stats SA report states that school attendance is “significantly higher in the grant recipient population than amongst households not receiving grants.” By extending the grant to all needy children under the age of 18, we will significantly increase their chances of completing their schooling and finding employment. An education is not only the right of all children, but what our country urgently needs.

The Black Sash also believes that the Stats SA report supports our conviction that placing conditions on those receiving the Child Support Grant is unnecessary and could be counter-productive. School attendance is already higher in households which receive the grant. Conditions will impose an administrative burden on the State, and would jeopardise access to the grant, especially within communities where the persistence of apartheid spatial geography makes it harder to travel to State institutions.

A Chronic Illness Grant

The Black Sash would also like to comment on the findings that grants have provided essential support to households affected by HIV. We are aware of the current policy debate within government which is considering introducing a standardised tool to assess ‘disability’. This will possibly exclude people managing chronic illnesses, such as those on ARVs. In this context, the Black Sash, together with other civil society organisations, is advocating for a Chronic Illness Grant which will provide much needed income support to those battling the dual challenges of poverty and chronic illness. With the support of such a grant, those who are ill will be able to eat healthily, keep warm and access their treatment, thus enabling their participation in society and relieving our desperately over-stretched health system.

More still needs to be done

While we acknowledge the real progress made by government in extending much needed social grants to more households, the Stats SA report shows us that we have much more to achieve as a country which remains dangerously characterised by poverty and inequality. We are acutely aware that the impact of the global economic crisis places a huge responsibility on the State, as the most significant driver of economic recovery, to make this fundamental need a reality. The Black Sash challenges all sectors of our society to acknowledge the seriousness of our situation and to work together to make dignity a reality for all who live in South Africa.

Here is the link to the Statistics SA report -

For interview requests, please contact:

Ratula Beukman

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager

Cell: 072-174 3507

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Nkosikhulule Nyembezi

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager

Cell: 082-429 4719

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

10 May 2017

In what the Black Sash describes as a “hollow victory for Net 1 and its subsidiaries”, acting Judge Corrie van der Westhuizen ruled in favour of Net1 on Tuesday 9 May 2017. The ruling allows for deductions from social grants to continue.

 Black Sash National Director, Lynette Maart, said she was deeply disappointed that the judgement will have ongoing negative consequences for grant recipients who, she argues, should be entitled to receive their grants without deductions including via debit orders. “It is disturbing that commercial interests seem to take precedence over protecting the Section 27 rights of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society to receive their grants in full” said Maart.       
The Black Sash has worked tirelessly together with other civil society organisations and government to tighten the Social Assistance Act Regulations in order to eliminate deductions (other than the permissible 10% allowed for funeral cover on old age and permanent disability grants) from the SASSA branded bank accounts. 
Regulation 26(A) was intended to protect recipients from these deductions, but this ruling technically argues that when the grant has been transferred into the bank account it is deemed to have been paid.  Unfortunately, this creates the perception that the grant is now “fair game” for those predators targeting financial services at the poor particularly loans, funeral policies, airtime and electricity. This is sometimes done under the guise of misrepresenting the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). 

The reality for many grant beneficiaries is that deductions and debit orders often go off before they have received their grants leaving people with insufficient funds to care for themselves or their families for the rest of the month which perpetuates the cycle of indebtedness.  These financial institutions that appear to have captured a portion of the social grants budget have no qualms in continuing to sell financial products to the poor, as their repayments are basically guaranteed irrespective of the undue hardship this creates. 
We requested in our application that if the regulations required further tightening that the Minister of Social Development should be allowed to do this.  This was not dealt with since our application to intervene was dismissed.                  
Under the Apartheid regime the Black Sash had a well known slogan - 'legal' now but immoral forever. This really sums up what we think of the debt trap that is deliberately being facilitated through the marketing of policies and loans to grant beneficiaries. 
The state, civil society and the private sector all have a collective responsibility to ensure that socio economic rights are protected.       
“The Black Sash will certainly not give up in our quest to make human rights real and is strongly considering joining the process to appeal the judgement.” insists Maart.  

For interviews, please contact:

  • Elroy Paulus (Black Sash Advocacy Manager) – 082 748 5621
  • Evashnee Naidu (Black Sash KZN Regional Manager) - 084 430 6133
  • Lynette Maart (Black Sash National Director) – 083 628 3425

For more information, please contact:

  • Esley Philander (Black Sash Communications and Media) – 073 468 2909

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