More than 150 000 South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) beneficiaries did not receive their grants this month due to submitting erroneous banking information.
National Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said it had received numerous calls from affected beneficiaries.
Letsatsi confirmed that the number of affected beneficiaries remains at just above 150 000.
He said this was due to incorrect banking details provided when beneficiaries were applying for grants or changing their methods of payment.
This included the spelling of names or a change of surname following a marriage.
“Sassa urges recipients to provide correct banking details when they apply for their social grants for the first time or when they amend their details,” he said adding that incorrect banking details may delay payment.
Letsatsi further explained that bank verification was conducted every month with the different banks to avoid fraud.
“Monthly there is a fair number of beneficiary accounts that fail the account number verification process.”
“As an organisation we had to take a decision that for instance if the name does not correspond to the ID number when checked with the bank, it raises suspicions. We are then obliged as an organisation to ask you to come and verify if indeed this is you.”
Letsatsi said these accounts are frozen until verification is done via the Sassa offices or by calling 0800601011.
“If you get a correspondence from us please respond.”
“Where beneficiary payment cannot be done due to incorrect banking details...the beneficiary has the option to apply for Social Relief of Distress(SRD) at any Sassa office which by law shall be recovered from the grant value once the account details have been resolved.”
Black Sash Western Cape regional manager, Thandi Henkeman, said the matter was "alarming" and that currently child and old age beneficiaries have been unable to access their January social grant.
Although Sassa claims that beneficiaries who required verification were notified three months prior, Black Sash was not aware of any such communication, she said.
“We have no doubt that had beneficiaries fully understood their grant money would be suspended, they would have proactively ensured that they complete this verification process at their local Sassa branch,” she said.
Henkeman said the concern now was the time it would take and the cost incurred by affected beneficiaries to reinstate their social grant.
“The knock-on effect is severe, pensioners rely on their meagre grant money to buy medicine and other basic living costs. The children affected by this latest failure are left without the necessities needed to start the new school year.”
She said Sassa has indicated that it will take 30 days to reinstate a beneficiary’s social grant.
DA’s Bridget Masango, said the party has been inundated with concerns from beneficiaries that they might have to reapply and be without their funds for months.
“For many mothers, the Child Support Grant is their only income and Sassa’s payment failure places additional strain on them at the start of the school year,” she said.
Liezl van der Merwe from the IFP said Minister Lindiwe Zulu recently admitted that Sassa has paid over R141 million to deceased grant recipients in the past three years.
“While at the end of last year, the Minister in response to an IFP question, revealed that more than 5 800 government employees were found to have received the R350 SRD grant.
Amounting to R2 million,” she said. The IFP called on the Minister to take swift action to restore the dignity of the social welfare system by ensuring that Sassa has fit-for-purpose databases to pay the right grant recipients, on time.
“The current outdated database is the root of many of Sassa's challenges, as highlighted by the AG.”
ActionSA spokesperson Lerato Ngobeni said this struggle is nothing new to many grant recipients.
“The social security grant is intended to provide relief to the most vulnerable in society yet the latest incident of non-payment further proves how inept and indifferent this ANC government is.”