Head-office sucked in the Vereeniging UIF debacle

It is at this office where desperate UIF clients in Vaal are being sent from pillar to post

By Lunga Mkhize

Department of Labour said it was not a government policy to suspend government services because of one official on sick leave.

The department’s statement followed after Vaal Observer took up the matter to head office after a Vereeniging UIF supervisor identified as Winnie told an applicant that he would not be paid anytime soon as the paymaster was in isolation after testing positive to Covid 19.  

Winnie back-tracked on her delayed payment utterances when confronted by her superiors from Johannesburg. She sang a different tune on Friday promising to process payment by Wednesday next week.

“No it is not and we have never done that. Once in a while yes our offices get affected by COVID 19 positive cases and we are forced to temporarily close the office, but our service continues/ work still goes on because some of our officials are working remotely and are equipped to do so from the comfort of their homes. This goes to show how our team recognizes the seriousness of the situation our centres finds itself in and their willingness to do their part and ensure that citizens are enabled to have access to essential services especially in this difficult time,” said the department spokesman Mishack Magakwe in response to questions sent to him by Vaal Observer. 

When asked to explain why it took four months for Jabu an assessor to attend to an application Magakwe said: “It is not as simple as that. Our Assessors are following protocols and measures put in place by the Department. Just to give you a little bit of a background the client in question applied on Ufiling on 04 May 2020 and the claim was rejected due to outstanding bank form. The bank form was scanned on Virtual office (system) on 21/07/2020.” Magakwe added that the client met UIF officials on Thursday where he was explained about the whole process.

However the client told Vaal Observer a different story. Instead he said UIF official Winnie repeated the same lies and made false promises again when he met them on Thursday. He explained that he submitted his banking details for the third time on 21 July but no changes have been done yet.

“I emailed the banking form on 3 July at 13:35 pm and again on 23 July to email onlineclaims.support@labour.gov.za. There is evidence which is reflecting on my Gmail account. I then went to the branch on 6 July to submit my form again which I gave to Abraham. And on 21 July I went back again to check on the progress of my application and I was shockingly requested to submit the same form again. Up-to this day they have not yet updated my banking details on their system,” said the visibly disappointed client. Vaal Observer was shown the evidence proving that the client emailed UIF his banking details on 3 July 2020.

“Winnie misled her Head Office into believing that her branch only received the 2.8 form on 21 July 2020 when Gmail’s glaring evidence shows that her office was emailed the papers three weeks earlier than that,” he said.

The client told Vaal Observer that UIF staff members at Vereeniging were paying too much lip-service to clients adding that they very economic with the truth.

“It would be better if they had changed the banking details already, but they haven’t done anything until this date. How can it take the whole month to just change the banking details? The attitude of the staff members stinks because they behave as if they are doing clients a favour to process their applications. They look down upon clients,” fumed the client.

When the client visited the branch again on Friday to make a follow up, his application had not moved an itch from where it was on 4 May 2020.

“Can you imagine that today Winnie had a new excuse. She said their system was done. When asked to explain why Jabu, the assessor didn’t process the application yesterday as promised, Winnie recycled the same challenge of a system which she said was down from yesterday. She could not explain why UIF didn’t change the banking details since 21 July,” complained the client.

The client’s frustration with Vereeniging UIF office is not limited to him alone but is experienced by thousands other applicants who frequent the Labour Department Centre along Joubert Street in Vereeniging everyday with the hope to access their money.

Despite all the bungling and delays, Winnie insisted that her branch was the best UIF Centre in Gauteng.

The client added that Winnie made fresh promises again today. “She promised to make sure that money would be in my account by Wednesday next week. She actually said ‘let me make your application my project for next week,’” said the client.

Magakwe also promised to investigate other complaints which were raised with him by the Vaal Observer.

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