A week later, many Sassa beneficiaries are still struggling


By Ella Morrison and Daniel Steyn, GroundUp

A week after the payment of Sassa’s pension allowance had to start, thousands of beneficiaries still have not received a cent.

Last week, a technical problem caused thousands of social grant recipients to have to turn things around because those who receive their grant through Sassa or with a Postbank card could not be helped.

The minister of social development, Lindiwe Zulu, and her counterpart at communications and digital technology, Mondli Gungubele, will give feedback on Thursday about the system collapse and measures to prevent a repeat of events.

Thousands are desperate

The organization Black Sash says in the meantime many beneficiaries slept outside payment centers because they simply did not have money for the ride home. Some pensioners walked from one ATM to another and visited Sassa offices or the post office in an attempt to receive the allowance.

“I’ve been walking since last Tuesday,” said 64-year-old Soraya Matthews from Bonteheuwel last week. She has been to at least six different pay points in Cape Town neighborhoods in an attempt to receive her allowance.

In addition to the R2 080 she receives as pension, Matthews was also unable to receive the child allowance she receives to look after her two grandchildren. The grant is her only source of income. Meanwhile, she relies on the goodwill of others to try to keep food on her household’s table.

Some beneficiaries did receive their grant; some got a portion and others didn’t get a single cent.

The problem appears to mainly affect pensioners, although Black Sash has also received reports that some child and disability allowances have not been paid.

Evashnee Naidu, associated with this organization, says they have received complaints from all over the country. “We are inundated with calls,” she says.

Several of the pensioners with whom GroundUp spoke took out loans just to try to keep body and soul together.

The latest trouble is at least the fourth system failure since Sassa took over the payment of the allowance from the Post Office in October last year.

Dr. Bongani Diako, a spokesperson for Posbank, says the institution experienced a system problem last Tuesday which affected Sassa and Posbank cardholders. The system was brought back online the next morning.

On Saturday, Posbank said in a statement that all allowances have now been allocated to beneficiaries’ accounts. By Monday, however, Diako said that out of the 180,000 affected transactions, 150,000 had been resolved and the rest would be dealt with over the next few days. Diako did not answer any further questions or provide any other clarification.

Sassa also did not respond to inquiries.

  • This post was originally published on GroundUp and is used with permission on RNews.