Thousands are still waiting for Sassa payouts for January

Henry

By Daniel Steyn, Qaqamba Falithenjwa and Thamsanqa Mbovane, GroundUp

Almost a week after they had to receive it, thousands of people are still waiting for their Sassa grant for January.

Over the past week, scores of beneficiaries across the country have been desperately pleading with pressure groups such as #PayTheGrants and the Black Sash movement for help. It is mainly beneficiaries receiving child benefit and old age pensions who are affected.

The child allowance amounts to R510 per month and 65% of South Africa’s children receive this allowance.

However, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) denies there were any hiccups with the January payments.

According to Sassa, many beneficiaries’ payouts are suspended monthly because they have not passed the bank verification process. Others’ payments are again not made because the Department of Home Affairs’ system marks them as dead.

“This is a monthly process that forms part of the advance payment process and it does not specifically relate to January’s disbursements,” Paseka Letsatsi, Sassa spokesperson, told GroundUp.

But according to Elizabeth Raiters, from #PayTheGrants, Sassa confirmed to this organization on Tuesday that there is a “system error” that is being attended to.

However, it is unclear whether beneficiaries will receive their money before the next payout date in February.

Raiters met with nearly 100 Sassa beneficiaries in Eldorado Park on Monday, none of whom received a grant this month.

However, she estimates that thousands of people nationwide are affected.

“It’s very bad for the beneficiaries. Children have to go back to school and now the parents can’t buy food or stationery.”

Thandi Hanekom, Black Sash’s coordinator in the Western Cape, also confirmed that there has been an increase in complaints from people whose Sassa accounts have been mistakenly suspended.

This information was also confirmed to GroundUp by a Sassa employee from a branch in Gqeberha, who wished to remain anonymous.

GroudUp also visited Sassa offices in Mitchells Plain in Cape Town and Kariega in the Eastern Cape where people were queuing up in the hope of getting the faulty suspensions reversed.

According to Raiters, grant was stopped due to “ridiculous reasons” – which previously caused no problems. She says there have been cases where people’s payout has been suspended because the person has three names on their ID, but only two of those names appear on their bank statement.

Sassa’s national payment system has experienced crashes on more than one occasion in the past two years. In September last year, thousands of people were left at the mercy of a technical error that prevented payments being made to Sassa users with gold cards.

Allowance only income

According to Bridget Masango, the DA’s spokesperson on social development, there are currently more than 70,000 beneficiaries nationwide who are waiting for their grant.

Masango also says that Sassa attributed the latest delay in the payout process to a technical error.

“In September last year, thousands of people struggled without their money for weeks. Now people fear anew that it will take weeks again before they will receive their money before February, if they ever receive it. For many parents, the child allowance is the only income they have,” says Masango.