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Sassa owes millions in unpaid municipal bills – one office hasn’t coughed up in 10 years

Sassa owes millions in unpaid municipal bills – one office hasn’t coughed up in 10 years
Sassa told Parliament that at least 19 offices had outstanding rent bills, of which seven are in KwaZulu-Natal. The agency told GroundUp that it has since paid the rents for most of these offices. (Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Responding to a parliamentary question, the South African Social Security Agency listed at least 19 offices with outstanding rent bills. One of them, in Durban, owes more than R6-million.

The South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) Durban District office hasn’t paid its rent for more than five years and owes more than R6-million, while the Northern Cape’s Ritchie Local Office has not paid rent for 10 years.

These are just a few of the answers given by the state agency in a parliamentary response in November 2022 to DA MP Bridget Masango’s question about outstanding rent at different Sassa offices.

Delays in municipalities issuing invoices or sending the wrong invoices have caused these payment challenges, according to Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi.

The agency listed at least 19 offices that had outstanding rent bills, of which seven are in KwaZulu-Natal. Sassa told GroundUp that it has since only paid the rent to some of these offices.

In the Eastern Cape, the Nelson Mandela Metro District Office, housed in a Post Office building in Gqeberha, has just more than R1-million in outstanding rent. Sassa said its regional management has withheld payment here until the Post Office resolves some issues related to occupational health and safety non-compliance Letsatsi said this office was closed in December 2021 and is expected to reopen in February 2023.

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Similarly, the Kempton Park satellite office in Gauteng has not paid for several months. Sassa said that invoices received in October 2022 were incorrect. The municipality was asked to amend the invoices and provide new banking details, but no amended invoices have been received since, according to the agency.

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In the Northern Cape, the Ritchie Local Office has not paid its rent in a decade. Letsatsi said Sassa is still in negotiations with the landlord.

Sassa said invoices for municipal services have not been issued for its Phillipstown and Noupoort offices. Phillipstown municipal services haven’t been paid for more than six years while Sassa disputes the rent amount due for the building it shares with the municipality. Noupoort hasn’t paid its municipal bill for more than eight years due to a “discrepancy”.

Letsatsi said that “most challenges for non-payment of rent are due to either delay in municipalities issuing invoices or the invoices sent being incorrect”. Despite sending monthly reminders to municipalities, there is often no response, he said.

KwaZulu-Natal had the most offices with outstanding rent, some of which had been outstanding for several years. The Archie Gumede office’s rent hasn’t been paid for nearly 10 years. The Durban District office also hadn’t paid its rent for more than five years and owed more than R6-million.

Sassa said that despite the non-payment of rent, the offices are still “operating at full capacity”. DM

First published by GroundUp.


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