OPINION - Last year, Sassa advertised that the old (blue) Sassa pension cards would no linger be valid as of the end of December 2018.
Pensioners had to apply for a new Sassa card at the offices or at the post office, or they could apply for the money to be paid into their bank account.
I took my aunt to get the new card. From January to April everything went fine. But then, at the end of May, when I went to the ATM machine to draw my aunt’s money for her to pay for her critical monthly medication, the ATM reported a fault.
I immediately contacted the number provided on the Post Office Sassa card to find out what was wrong with the card. A very helpful gentleman informed me that the card had been cancelled and a new card had been issued - even though we did not apply for another card.
The gentleman checked the account and the money was still in the account. I immediately cancelled the newly issued card as well. And the gentleman informed me that I should take my aunt to the Post Office again and get the card mess sorted out there.
We did that immediately, but when we got to the Post Office in Lyttleton, Centurion, they told us they no longer issued Sassa cards. We had to go to the Sassa offices to get this sorted.
Since my aunt’s original card (the blue 2018 card) was issued in the Lydenburg area, when she lived with her son, we decided to get back there to sort the mess out.
She went to the Sassa offices in Lydenburg, and they issued her with another Post Office Sassa card, but told her that they would not be able to activate the card until the investigation into the fraudulent card had been completed.
This meant that my aunt could not withdraw her money to buy her medication.
My aunt, Trudy Steyn, is temporarily staying with her son, Pieter Nel in Lydenburg, to try to get the card activated once again.
At the end of June, she went to the Sassa offices to do so, and they said they could not activate it until the investigation had been finalised. So once again, she can not draw her pension to buy her medication.
That was when my aunt found out that she wasn’t the only elderly person this had happened to, that there were loads of elderly people in the exact same situation.
Once again, they assured her that the money was in her Sassa account, but that she would not be able to draw it.
But they told her she could fill in a form, and Sassa would issue R150 for her to buy food.
There is now two months’ pension in the account, but she has no access to the money, which means she has to rely on her family and friends to provide for her medication.
We cannot get any information from Sassa on how many pensioners have been affected by this fraud case or when they estimate this problem will be resolved.
In the meantime, most elderly people need their Sassa money to survive, to buy food or pay for lodging, are stuck without their much-needed funds!
I spoke to a friend, a policeman, and he said investigations like these could take years to be processed and sorted out. These elderly people countrywide are now stuck without financial means, and the Sassa offices are not giving these people their funds.
What happens to the people who don’t have family to help them?
I feel that this matter is being pushed under the table, and there is no one speaking out for the elderly.