File picture: David Ritchie

Johannesburg - Social grant beneficiaries who notice unauthorised deductions have been urged to report them to their nearest SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) office.

Spokesman Kgomoco Diseko said they were working with the service provider Net1, the Department of Social Development and the Reserve Bank to find a solution to this challenge.

“We urge anyone who experiences an unauthorised ­deduction to report the matter to their local office as soon as they became aware of it,” he said. “The complainants will be asked to complete an affidavit, which will be used to investigate.

“If it is confirmed that the deduction was indeed unauthorised, arrangements will be made to have the money refunded.”

In one instance, Thabithi Thulare, 79, of Mamelodi, said she suffered at the hands of unknown individuals who helped themselves to her pension.

Thulare submitted an affidavit to Sassa stating that she did not authorise deductions for cellphone airtime or prepaid electricity.

In the affidavit, she wrote that her receipts, which she received with her monthly ­payout, indicated that R190 was deducted for airtime and R100 for electricity. There was a R13.80 service charge for the transactions.

Thulare said R80 was being deducted from her pension monthly, which now amounted to about R2 000, and she wanted her money back.

The pensioner, who receives R1 520 each month, reported the incident and was told the deductions were for water, ­electricity and airtime.

This has been going on for years, prompting Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to make amendments to the Social Assistance Act.

The amendment relates to the application for and payment of social assistance and the requirements or conditions in respect of eligibility. The amendments, aimed at rooting out unlawful and unauthorised activities, were promulgated last month.

However, Diseko said it was too early to determine whether the revised legislation would have the desired impact, as the service provider indicated that it would not be able to implement it this month.

Net1 had filed papers to ­obtain a declaratory order on the interpretation of the amendments, he said.

“The service provider does not accept the interpretation given by the department. We have a solid case to present to the court, and will file our intention to oppose this week.”

Last month, 14 suspects who were part of a social grant fraud syndicate were arrested. It was the biggest syndicate to date, and operated inter-provincially.

More than 500 cases of ID fraud related to social grants were uncovered during an internal investigation.

Complaints of unauthorised deductions should be referred to [email protected], and to 0800 60 10 11 or ­012 400 2322.