South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grant recipients came out empty-handed when attempting to withdraw cash with their new card this month.
Last month the swop over for beneficiaries to collect their money from a cash point and now receive electronic bank services, through a special disbursement account, got off to a slow start.
The swop is 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 service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).
Pensioner Ivan Anter, 63, from Westridge, said he was disgusted at how poor people are treated.
“Thispaymentstands between them having nothing on the table. There was no communication. Nothing on radio or television advising people on what is happening,” he said.
Mr Anter had done a new card swop and his wife Wendy, 62, had opted to receive her pension via the bank. He had gone to a shopping retailer to collect his money but every other beneficiary was turned away “declined”.
“Every person with a new card was turned away. We tried the old card and still nothing,” he said.
Mr Anter said they went to the Sassa office which has been open on Sundays during the migration period but was told there is a national glitch.
“There was no information. People stood in long queues to get their money,” he said.
He said his sister-in-law, not knowing, had tried several times to withdraw her money, which incurred arrears of R70 for balance enquiries.
Mr Anter said he was lucky in that his wife’s money was in her bank account but what about the other people who were living hand to mouth.
Abraham Mahlangu, acting CEO of Sassa, has noted the challenges experienced by grants beneficiaries during the current social grant payment cycle.
“We are aware that beneficiaries are experiencing problems with the electronic payment of their social grants.”
He said what is being experienced is a result of a process of changing from an old to a new payment system for social grants.He said Sassa was in the process of phasing out CPS as directed by the Constitutional Court and introducing Sapo to pay social grants.
“We assure beneficiaries that their social grants will be paid in full. In fact, the funds are already in their accounts. We request beneficiaries to give themselves at least three days to withdraw their grants,” he said.
Should a beneficiary choose to access their funds through an ATM, the account type a beneficiary chooses should be a savings account – in the event of the savings option being rejected, the beneficiary can then choose the cheque account option.
Mr Mahlangu apologised for the inconvenience caused.
“Sassa and Sapo are working tirelessly to find a solution to this problem and ensure that all beneficiary services are restored in the shortest possible time. “We further undertake to keep our beneficiaries informed,” he said.
Sassa and Sapo pledge to offer electronic banking services through a special disbursement account to beneficiaries.
Beneficiarieshavethe option ofreceivingtheir social grant via direct payment into the beneficiaries’ bank account, via Postbank or via merchants.
The advantages of the new Sassa card, include no illegal deductions; unlimited point of sale purchase (POS) purchases; one balance enquiry at an ATM every month: one mini statement drawn from an ATM every month; one PIN reset at a Sapo branch; unlimited PIN resets at Sassa offices; an initial card issued and one free replacement; but no EFT debits or stop orders.
The card swop process started in May at cash pay points and will continue at Sassa offices and Sapo branches until September.
Sassa has also extended services to weekends on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am until 1pm to ensure that services are accessible to all beneficiaries.
* Sassa advises social grant beneficiaries who have experienced any technical challenges with the new Sassa card, to access the Sassa point closest to them and to ensure that their complaints are registered.
They said once the complaints are registered, they will be forwarded to Sapo for immediate intervention and prompt resolution.