‘Down time’ hampers Sassa card migration

Mitchell’s Plain pensioners got the short end of the stick, when they were unable to change how they receive their South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grant money.

Friday June 1 should have been the launch date for Sassa beneficiaries, who usually collect their grant money at Portland indoor sports centre, to confirm and update their details, in accordance with a service agreement between Sassa and the South African Post Office (SAPO), via Postbank to take over the payment of social grants, from former service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

Beneficiaries will now receive electronic banking services through a special disbursement account; instant account opening and a card swap at targeted pay points, Sassa local offices and Sapo outlets.

Shivani Wahab, senior Sassa manager, said they experienced “down time” with the initial issuing of cards.

There was a nationwide shortage and extra bandwidth was needed to enable a faster network.

Ms Wahab said no further launches would be convened except for the continuation of the card swap services at the Mitchell’s Plain Indoor Sport and Recreation Centre in Portland and Colorado Park community hall.

“Actual dates will be confirmed once the landlords indicate availability,” she said.

Cash beneficiaries and those who collected social grants electronically, using PIN numbers at shops and ATMs must take along their identity (ID) smart card or green bar-coded ID book, their old Sassa card currently in use, to replace it with the new Sassa Sapo card by the end of September.

Beneficiaries collecting social grants using their personal banking accounts are not required to complete the card swap as their social grants are directly deposited into their personal banking account.

However, these beneficiaries will need to sign a permission form (Annexure C) authorising the direct payment into their personal banking account.

Ms Wahab said Tafelsig community hall, Lentegeur civic centre and the Mitchell’s Plain Indoor Sport and Recreation Centre in Portland would form part of the the roll-out for card swaps for June but would close as payment points.

Cash paypoints will be gradually reduced (not fully phased out). Where a pay point is within 5km radius of a post office, the post office will take over payments for that paypoint.

Ms Wahab said beneficiaries would continue to receive their social grants beyond August.

“The agency will further endeavour to ensure that the transition of beneficiaries from cash pay points to electronic methods of payment happens smoothly,” she said.

The benefits of the Sassa Sapo card, include no illegal deductions; three free cash withdrawals at merchants; one free cash withdrawal a month from a post office branch; all purchases or swipes at merchants are free, there is no fee charged for it; and the new Sassa card is EMV (Eurocard, Mastercard, Visa) compliant.

This is the global standard for chip cards. As a result, the card offers better security features.

The card is accepted at all merchants and ATMs in South Africa that display the Visa sign.

The Plainsman sent enquiries to all of the banks, asking about bank fees for Sassa grant recipients but only Post Bank, Standard Bank and Nedbank replied.

The Postbank Mzansi account requires applicants to keep a balance of R20 in their account, their account opening fee is free; it costs R2.10 up to R100, thereafter an additional R2.10 per R100 or part thereof above R100.01 for cash deposits at a branch; cheque deposits are free; cash withdrawal at a branch costs R12.60; cash withdrawals at an ATM costs R8.20 up to R100 and thereafter an additional R1.70 per R100; and swipes, mini statements or balance enquiries are free.

Standard Bank offers an Access Account, which charges beneficiaries a monthly admin fee of R5.30; cheque deposits cost R42.37 at an ATM or at a branch; cash deposits cost R1.61 per R100 or part thereof at an ATM; and R8.07 + R1.61 per R100 or part thereof for deposits at a branch; swipes are free, provided there are no cash backs; mini statements are charged but beneficiaries have access to their self-service banking using the Standard Bank App, online banking, cellphone banking (*120* 2345#) or ATM.

Nedbank charges a monthly fee of R5.50; no minimum monthly balance needs to be kept; all electronic deposits into the account, like Sassa grants, are free; all card swipes at merchants are free; free balance enquiries on all self-service channels, including SMS banking; and free internal Nedbank debit orders; free inter-account transfer.

Cash withdrawals via Nedbank at Pick * Pay or Boxer stores cost R2 each.

An advantage to having a bank account is that money can be deposited, saved and transferred.

For more information about grants, call the Sassa regional office on 021 469 0200 or toll-free on 0800 60 10 11.