STRUGGLE: Social grant beneficiaries battled to get payments at the Zolani Centre in Nyanga on Wednesday. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Thousands of social grant beneficiaries were left without money because of a glitch with the new SA Post Office (Sapo) cards which replaced the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) Cash Paymaster Service cards.

According to Abraham Mahlangu, Sassa acting chief executive, the glitch is a result of a backlog at Sassa in processing the beneficiaries on the new system.

Responding to the National Assembly committee on social development, Mahlangu said Sassa was facing a backlog glitch as the number of beneficiaries increased from 200000 to 934000 on their new system.

“I want to assure (you) that we have a handle on the matter, I am monitoring the system on an hourly basis. The system kicked in on Tuesday night. The technical glitch is being attended too and beneficiaries are getting their dues,” he said.

However, Mahlangu did not mention the strike by Sassa workers which only ended on Wednesday when the Labour Court struck off the roll an interdict brought by Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu, last week, to halt the Public Servants Association’s (PSA) strike at Sassa, which began on Monday.

Leon Gilbert, PSA’s assistant general manager for collective bargaining said the union’s workers will be going back to work from today as the Labour Court, along with striking Shabangu’s interdict application off the roll, has ruled that the Department of Social Development and Sassa workers should return to the bargaining table for wage negotiations.

PSA has put an initial wage-hike demand of between 11% and 13%.

However all of this is cold comfort for those turned away at paypoints.

Rosey Pizaro, who was at the Zolani Centre pay point in Nyanga on Wednesday, said she had not received her grant money.

“They said we must change the cards, we did that and now the new cards do not reflect payment. Sassa officials here say they don’t know what’s going on.

“We need that money for groceries. My children are hungry now,” she said.

Pensioner Ntombizakhe Maposa, from Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape, said when she went to the local Sassa offices she was told to continue going to the ATM to check whether her funds were available.

“This is a huge inconvenience. We have funeral policies, debit orders that go off monthly plus groceries to buy. We also can’t go queue at ATMs and wait at Sassa offices for feedback on payment,” she said.

Provincial Sassa spokesperson Shivani Wahab said: “We are aware that beneficiaries are experiencing problems with the electronic payment of their social grants.

“Sassa wishes to apologise for the inconvenience caused. Sassa and Sapo are working tirelessly to find a solution to this problem and ensure that all beneficiary services are restored in the shortest possible time.”

A Constitutional Court order instructed Sassa to phase out the CPS contract to distribute social grants payment.

Sassa in partnership with Sapo now have to change all CPS accounts to Sapo by September 30.

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Cape Argus