Sassa beneficiaries must now visit ATMs, retailers, a post office or one of the few remaining pay points to collect their social grants. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has weighed in on a recent study which found that the decommissioning of pay points had had a negative impact on social grant recipients.

Sassa said the study, by the Black Sash and the UWC’s department of political studies, was done without its input and contained misconceptions.

“The new relationship entered into with the SA Post Office (Sapo) sought to bring control of social grant payments under government. 

"The new model provides beneficiaries the option to receive their grants directly into their own personal bank accounts, or through the Sassa card,” Sassa provincial spokesperson Shivani Wahab said yesterday.

The study, released last week, looked at four case-study sites in Delft, Khayelitsha, Genadendal and Robertson. It contributes to a broader Black Sash study under way nationwide.

The study found, among others, that the cost of accessing grants had increased for all grant beneficiaries.

This was attributed to several factors, including transaction fees, transportation costs, especially in rural areas, long queues, an unreliable system that is often off-line and an inadequate supply of cash to pay grants.

“The closure of almost 80% of cash pay points has had a devastating impact on social grant beneficiaries, especially in rural and peri-urban areas. 

"Beneficiaries have a constitutional right to receive the full value of their monthly social grant in a dignified manner,” Black Sash said.

In December 2017, Sassa and the Sapo signed an agreement for the provision of a state-led, hybrid social grant payment model.

It preceded Sassa, in 2018, abandoning its tender process for a service provider to make payments.

Sassa said it had managed to save the fiscus R1 billion since the payment contract with Cash Paymaster Services ended in September last year.

Wahab said some cash pay points were decommissioned and beneficiaries benefited from multiple payment options. 

“Some beneficiaries use the Grindrod green card to collect their grants, and in many instances the report doesn’t manage to distinguish between beneficiaries who use the new Sassa card and the green card.

“The Sassa card is a fully-fledged debit card which can be used anywhere in the national payment system. However, taking heed of the previous challenges faced by grant beneficiaries, the card does not allow for any EFT debits or stop orders off the account.

“This provides greater flexibility and convenience for social grant beneficiaries, while at the same time providing protection from unscrupulous financial service providers.”

Sassa admitted that some of the post offices were not yet up to standard, and said it was working to ensure that basic requirements were met.

Cape Times