Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane
Durban -The government has threatened to take Cash Paymaster Systems (CPS) to court following allegations that some of its employees were blocking recipients of social grants from obtaining the “new look and safe Sassa cards”.

On Thursday, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane - who is part of the inter-ministerial committee on social security, led by Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma - accused CPS of being on a campaign to misinform grant recipients and allegedly lure them into not migrating to the new cards.

Mokonyane said CPS cards would be phased out by the end of September. “We have taken legal action against some of the people who have interfered with the Sassa/Sapo teams working tirelessly to ensure we conclude the card swop within the stipulated time.

“We appeal to CPS officials to assist by avoiding misinforming the poor and vulnerable on the process that was agreed upon through the Constitutional Court’s judgment,” Mokonyane said.

CPS chief executive Herman Kotze confirmed that there were problems in the past, but that they’ve since been resolved.

“When Sapo commenced the card-swop programme, there were isolated instances where CPS did not allow teams claiming to be Sapo officials on the pay sites, as no prior arrangements had been made with CPS to provide the necessary security clearance, and allow unidentified individuals into the paypoint environment,” Kotze said.

Meanwhile, the incumbent Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu has also revealed that she has taken legal action against Grindrod for allegedly “making unlawful deductions” from social grant recipients' accounts over the years.

Shabangu made these revelations after the inter-ministerial committee on social security announced that grant recipients would no longer use the CPS cards to collect social grants after September.

She told the media that Grindrod - a JSE-listed company - was allegedly responsible for the “deductions of R10” from grant recipients.

"These deductions sparked a major outcry, which forced civil society organisations such as Black Sash to approach the Constitutional Court, to request it to stop any further deductions from pensioners and child grant recipients.

Yesterday, Shabangu placed the blame squarely at Grind- rod's door, and said her legal action was aimed at recovering those funds.

She said her departmental investigations have shown that CPS, Net1 and Grindrod were the “same companies", apparently using different trading and marketing tools.

However, Grindrod's head of retail Chris Newland has denied any knowledge of legal action against his company.

Replying to these allegations, Newland said when CPS was initially awarded the tender, Sassa paid R16.44 to CPS for each recipient, which allowed them not to make any deductions from grant recipients.

“When Sassa stopped making those payments and the programme was still continuing, R10 was deducted from the recipients and Grindrod only received 50c for its bank facility. The rest of the amount was paid to CPS for supplying infrastructure support and technology,” Newland said.

In a direct attack on CPS, the inter-ministerial committee announced that the new Sassa card was much safer than the CPS card.

“The gold card is safer and does not allow for illegal deductions and fraudulent transactions to take place. It is designed to protect social grant beneficiaries from illegal deductions for things such as electricity, airtime and loans.

“The only deductions permitted on the new gold Sassa card will be for funeral policies on non-child grants, which should also not be more than 10% of the total grant,” Mokonyane said.

She added that beneficiaries could make three cash-free withdrawals from various merchants such as Shoprite and Boxer; one free over the counter cash withdrawal at the Post Office; free swipes (purchase payments) at all merchants and one free ATM balance enquiry per month.

The new Sassa gold card was easily identifiable. “It is gold in colour and has the country’s coat of arms on the right hand side as well as the letters Sassa inscribed on the left.

“The new Sassa gold card offers social grant beneficiaries real benefits, which beneficiaries that have migrated to it are already enjoying,” Mokonyane said.

The government was urging all social grant beneficiaries to exercise their choice of a grant payment method carefully and elect to receive them that will not result in their own exploitation, she pointed out.

Daily News