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Fears now that Post Office will no longer be paying out R350 grant

South African Post Office spokesperson Johan Kruger said the idea was to move the payments to the point where the beneficiaries use their grant. Picture: African News agency (ANA)

South African Post Office spokesperson Johan Kruger said the idea was to move the payments to the point where the beneficiaries use their grant. Picture: African News agency (ANA)

Published May 12, 2022

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Cape Town - The Post Office will no longer pay out the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant and activists, and politicians expressed fears this would cause further hardship to thousands.

South African Post Office spokesperson Johan Kruger said the idea was to move the payments to the point where the beneficiaries used their grant.

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“We found that beneficiaries come to the post office to collect and use the grant at a grocery store. This saves them time and transport money,” he said.

Kruger said beneficiaries had many choices, such as having the grant paid into a bank account, receiving it through a cash send transaction at an ATM, or collecting it from a supermarket.

He said the Post Office at this stage did not plan to reintroduce the payments at its branches, but Sassa beneficiaries who received old age, disability or child grants could still collect them from any Post Office branch.

The move was condemned by politicians and activists.

Provincial ANC social development spokesperson Gladys Bakubaku-Vos said although the ANC welcomed the initiative to expand the pay points for the grants, which now included retailers, it was concerned that many beneficiaries would be negatively affected.

“Especially those from communities where there are no nearby shopping centres where these retailers can be found. We ask the national government to rethink this decision.”

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The DA said it would write to the Digital Technologies and Communications and Social Development ministers to urge them to reverse the decision.

DA national social development spokesperson Bridget Masango said the insistence by Sapo that its decision to stop paying the grant at its branches would alleviate long queues was not good enough

“To blame those queues on beneficiaries of the social relief grants is to gaslight poor South Africans,” she said.

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Black Sash National Advocacy manager Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker said the organisation had initially supported the partnership between the Department of Social Development and Sapo as a state-led hybrid model with state accountability

“However, since Sapo has been administering social grants its has been plagued with issues such as technical glitches, limited staff, corruption, shortage of cash, delays with cash delivery, and closure of post offices, with no details about if and how it is penalised for not fulfilling its obligations in terms of its Memorandum of Agreement.”

She said Black Sash appreciated that the Department of Social Development and Sassa were looking for alternative measures for beneficiaries to access their grants through retailers at no cost, but said they were wary of the fact that private businesses were performing a government service.

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She said a lesson should have been learnt after the Cash Paymaster Services arrangement led to a crisis which forced Black Sash to make an urgent application to the Constitutional Court.

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Cape Argus

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