File image: IOL.

CAPE TOWN - Following month long deliberations, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) earlier today announced that the South African Post Office (Sapo) will be taking over grant payments. Sassa and SAPO will work together to form a new hybrid system to ensure that grants are paid on time. 

A number of pensioners were interviewed to discern how this new payment system will affect them. 

Sassa has been embroiled in a public scandal since they have failed to assign a new payment contractor. Sassa's contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) was due to terminate on April 1, 2017. 

READ: BREAKING: Post office will take over grant payments

However, Sassa failed to secure an alternate payment contractor, endangering the social grant payment of 16 million beneficiaries. Notably, previous contractor, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) was alleged to have an unlawful contract with the grant agency.  This then fueled the debate over whether CPS’s contract should be extended, post April 1, 2017. 

CPS is believed to have been in line to fork out R5.1 billion a year, upon renewal of their contract. However, this scheme was crushed today by Treasury. 

Treasury and Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe confirmed today that the Post Office will take over grant payments as of November 11. 

76-year-old pensioner from Grassy Park, Harriet Van Schalkwyk, said that she will not be affected by the new takeover. She added that she usually accesses her money from local stores such as Pick n Pay and Shoprite. The Grassy Park pensioner pays a fee when she withdraws her money at the above mentioned stores.

“I don’t mind paying because I must pay for the service”, said Van Schalkwyk. 

“There is a Post Office near to where I stay”, added Van Schalkwyk. Therefore, Van Schalkwyk will not be plagued with traveling a long distance to access her social grant money. 

However,  Annie Valentine, a 67-year-old, from Parow North said she was concerned over the new payment system.

“It’s going to be long long queues. What about people who don’t have the privilege to go to the bank. They will have to walk long distances and be targeted by skollies [sic]”.

Valentine said that she accesses her pension at the bank. This avoids standing in long queues and it is more convenient for her. “What is the Post Office going to do about pensioner’s safety”, questioned Valentine. 

This is hard-hitting for many who do not live within walking distance from a post office. 

Similarly, Radiefa Ederies, a 78-year-old pensioner from Mitchells Plain declared that Sassa is not handling the grant system well. 

“At the beginning of the year, we were worried because we didn’t know if we were going to get our money. The pension money of R1 620 is not much because I have to look after my grandkids and make sure that they go to school”. 

Ederies added that she is wary about the new payment system, given Sassa’s track record. 

“We can only hope that this system works for us pensioner’s and that every pensioner is able to access a Post Office close to them”, concluded Ederies. 

Meanwhile, Minister Radebe has addressed the expiration of Sassa cards, saying that cards will not expire by December 31. 

“"By next week Friday, we will have all these agreements in place, and we will move with speed with dedicated team, chaired by DG of DPME Nompumelelo Mpofu," Radebe announced.

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