Scammed residents speak out

KAYLYNN PALM

Angry Mitchell’s Plain residents are demanding an explanation from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) about money they say is being deducted from their monthly grants.

Agents for Change chairperson and community worker April Engelbrecht slammed Sassa’s services, describing them as “failing pensioners”.

“Firstly, pensioners have to wait in long queues monthly.

“They are being scammed with the electricity and airtime and in other cases people are not being paid out their full amount.

“I have been assisting residents for two years with the deductions, especially the airtime and electricity. There are cases where people give their PINs and then become victims of a scam, but there are many people who don’t give any information and their money is taken,” he said.

Janup Martin from Eastridge said in December last year, she received a call from a person claiming to work for Sassa. The person requested her PIN because she had apparently won a voucher. A total of R500 was removed from her account.

“The lady was well-spoken and pleasant. She said she was a Sassa official and that she needed my details so that they could send me the money. I was excited and then gave the details.

“When I went to check my account, R500 was taken. I then realised that I was scammed.

“I was so upset and immediately called Sassa who then changed my PIN,” she said.

Shivani Wahab, senior manager for Sassa Western Cape, said airtime and electricity deductions are reflected on the beneficiary’s account.

Standley Herbert from Tafelsig said he’s not receiving his full grant amount from Sassa. He said every month, he receives R600 after deductions of up to R800.

“This has been going on for three years. I have never bought airtime, electricity, or made a loan. I have gone to Sassa, but there’s no assistance,” he said.

Ms Wahab said the records indicate that the beneficiary has a Finbond deduction of R437.57 as repayment on a loan agreement. In addition to this, she said, payments for airtime and electricity are also being deducted from Mr Herbert’s account.

She added that if Ms Martin and Mr Herbert did not purchase these commodities, they should visit the nearest Sassa office with affidavits declaring that they did not buy the airtime and electricity and neither did they grant permission to anyone to purchase these items.

Melvina Gordon from Eastridge has three children and is supposed to receive a child support grant for each of them. She said since November 2013, Sassa has only paid out grants for two instead of three children.

“I noticed in November 2013, that I was only getting a grant for two children. I then went in to the office and then they told me I should review the child. That same month I did the reviewing. I have been waiting for 13 months, but no money has come through,” she said.

On Wednesday January 20 she went with Mr Engelbrecht to the Mitchell’s Plain Sassa office where she found out that Sassa had had the wrong application date.

Mr Engelbrecht said while Ms Gordon’s application had been made on November 2013, Sassa’s records reflected an application date of October 9, 2014.

Ms Wahab said on their records it indicates that the beneficiary is currently in receipt of a child support grant for four children, among them Kaido Gordon.

“The application date on Kaido’s records is 9 October 2014. She has been receiving payment for four children since August 2015.”

Ms Gordon, however, denied this.

Ms Wahab added: “We are, however, unable to obtain Ms Gordon’s payment history as her money is being transferred to an Easy Pay Card (green card) that Sassa has no access to. Please note that these cards are generally given to clients who have existing loans,” she said.

Zuleiga Boltman from Eastridge said over a period of 12 months last year R200 was deducted from her Sassa grant every month.

“I was so upset, because I never bought airtime and electricity from my account but that’s what it reflected. I was so angry because that R200 is worth something. I then went in and now they’ve changed my PIN, but I never got my money back,” she said.

Ms Wahab said Sassa will never request any information from social grant beneficiaries telephonically.

“Should a beneficiary be required to visit our offices, correspondence from Sassa is sent to beneficiaries via registered mail,” she said.

For more information Sassa beneficiaries can contact the CPS toll free number at 0800 60 01 60 for assistance.

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