Uncertainty plagued Sassa grant beneficiaries earlier this year as the South African Social Security Agency announced the end of its partnership with the Post Office. The post office was responsible for distributing millions of social grants monthly.
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) ended a four-year-long partnership with the South African Post Office (Sapo) in September 2022.
The reasons for the partnership ceasing were due to Sapo’s declining footprint, administrative challenges, technical issues, corruption, shortage of cash, robberies, and closure of Sassa offices.
Civil groups raised concerns about this ending partnership, as Sapo was responsible for distributing social grants monthly. These concerns were alleviated as Sassa and Sapo said the payment of grants would not be impacted.
Despite the assurances from Sassa and Sapo, the payment of Sassa grants has been affected as many grant beneficiaries experienced challenges accessing their November 2022 grant payments.
Sassa had three months to plan the migration of grant payment services from Sapo to the Postbank. However, grant beneficiaries are still experiencing challenges with accessing their grants.
Black Sash Director Rachel Bukasa said it was concerning that there was a lack of planning to ensure a smooth ceding of the partnership between Sapo and Sassa. This left many grant beneficiaries unable to collect their money.
Previously, a biometric fingerprint system was used for authentication and verification by Sassa grant beneficiaries. However, this fingerprint system is longer operational and beneficiaries now need to use PINs instead.
Black Sash explained that this was because the Postbank used the SASWITCH system to pay grants. The system allowed customers to use any ATM, regardless of which bank they are using. However, on the day of grant payments, beneficiaries found that the grants were not paid into their account.
“Some beneficiaries were informed that they had to change from biometrics to PINS whilst collecting their social grants…Beneficiaries with Postbank cards received their grants, but SASWITCH – and Sassa cards were seemingly blocked on the system,” explained the organisation.
Several other challenges also prevented people from being paid their grants. This included loadshedding and Postbank system outages. In separate incidents, thousands of grant beneficiaries were unable to collect the full value of their grants in cash at grant payment points at the beginning of November 2022.
Black Sash acknowledged Sassa’s efforts to ensure grant beneficiaries are not charged for their first three money withdrawals from ATMs. However, they are calling on Sassa to communicate with grant beneficiaries and keep them informed of how they will be impacted by any new developments.
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