South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grant beneficiary Gladys Manqina, 76, nearly collapsed when she was told that her money could not be withdrawn.
She was among the thousands of pensioners around the country unable to access their grant money due to intermittent technical issues experienced by Postbank.
By Wednesday afternoon Postbank announced that it had “fully” restored ATM Sassa grant transaction access, allowing pensioners access to their funds.
“I even thought that I got the dates wrong, but how could I have done so when there were many of us in the queue? It was really heartbreaking seeing fellow pensioners hopeless.
“Others did not even have money to return home. We had to help each other.
I hope that this serves as a lesson and we are never subjected to this again,” said Manqina.
Postbank spokesperson Bongani Diako said Sassa social grants customers using Postbank Sassa Gold Cards and all stakeholders were advised that the technical difficulty has been resolved for all ATM and Post Office branch transactions.
“The processing of the reversal of funds debited on the accounts that declined since Tuesday, owing to a system error, is under way.
“Beneficiaries who have attempted withdrawals since yesterday (Tuesday) are urged to give this process some time before attempting any further transactions.”
“It is anticipated that the funds will be reversed into all beneficiaries’ accounts over the next 24 hours.
“Postbank’s technical teams are working on restoring the transactions inside the retailers to full capacity as there are still intermittent challenges with transactions through this channel.
“We apologise to our valued customers for the inconvenience caused by this incident and thank them for their patience,” he said.
Diako said gold cards remain valid for accessing social grant payments despite the expiry date on the cards, until Postbank replaces them.
Black Sash regional manager, Evashnee Naidu said that the organisation had received calls that many elderly people were stranded in town and couldn’t get home after queuing for hours.
“This is the biggest trauma. It’s disgusting that our elderly are suffering like this.
“This is unacceptable. We are in solidarity with all those who are struggling, we understand their plight and this should not be acceptable.
“We know that our beneficiaries rely on this money, this is their livelihood and I can’t even contemplate the fear and anxiety that they are going through.
Postbank failed from day one. Sassa needs to get their house in order,” she said.
Dr Kelle Howson, a senior research consultant at the Institute for Economic Justice, said: “Beneficiaries have a right and a reasonable expectation to get paid their grants on time. If that’s not done they can’t plan for the month ahead. Beneficiaries are having to borrow money from loan sharks, and that is a huge concern.”
DA spokesperson on social development, Alexandra Abrahams said they were also inundated by complaints from grant beneficiaries.
“This is particularly worrying as yesterday (Tuesday) was allocated for the payment of old age grants and many seniors were forced to return home empty-handed after queuing for hours in the wind, rain and cold.”