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Cape Town - Senior citizens have had to queue for three days to get their pensions.
In Athlone on Tuesday people waited in a queue for the third day in a row to collect their payout because of delays caused by an overwhelmed Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) system.
According to the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), the CPS system had been inundated by a high turn-out of beneficiaries.
Waiting in line to collect her pension around midday yesterday, Amina Davids from Crawford said: “It’s absolute chaos.”
Davids said she had arrived at the pay point on Friday morning and was told at 3pm to return on Monday. She did so but was told to return on Tuesday.
“I came here at 7am and they only let us in at 8.30am. But then nothing moved until 9.30am.”
She said she had initially been told “there was no money”. Long queues snaked outside the building yesterday.
Vincent Billy from Manenberg said that on Friday he had gone to Athlone Civic Centre. “They told me there was no money and I had to come back today.”
Sassa spokeswoman Shivani Wahab said an unexpected influx of beneficiaries caused a shortage of cash at Athlone.
“CPS bases their cash allocations on trends from previous months’ payments, and although they had doubled their cash allocations they had to replenish cash both yesterday and today due to the large volumes of clients at the pay point,” Wahab said.
Sassa apologised, saying beneficiaries had the option of accessing their social grants at the pay point, merchant or bank of their choice.
Wahab said similar problems were expected until the end of June while the roll-out of new Sassa payment cards continued.
“We also do anticipate that the high influx of clients at pay points and any challenges with payment will stabilise thereafter.”
Many beneficiaries previously received their social grants via banks.
After the reregistration process was introduced and beneficiaries received new payment cards, there was miscommunication, with beneficiaries believing they had to activate the cards at a Sassa pay point, said Wahab
“This is untrue. Sassa payment cards are active upon issue and beneficiaries may access their social grants at a pay point, merchant or bank of their choice.”
Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said he was “sick and tired” of the recurring problem.
He was due to meet Sassa’s Western Cape chief, Valdi Terreblanche, on Thursday and planned to raise the problems that had arisen with the new system.
“Month after month we have the same problem. People are coming to collect R1 260, not R10 000, and then to spend the day in queue - it’s abuse of the poor,” he said.