Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/African news Agency/ANA
Durban - Social grants payments went smoothly in KwaZulu-Natal this week despite an attempted cash-in-transit (CIT) heist that targeted a cash van transporting money to a post office in the north of the province.

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in KZN confirmed that police had earlier this week, foiled a heist attempt on a security vehicle transporting Sassa grant money to the Melmoth post office, on the R34 between Nkwalini and Empangeni, near Mfuli game reserve.

Sassa said the cash was not taken and grant beneficiaries were only affected by minor delays.

“The cash was later delivered to the post office and, after an hour or so delay, all was back in order and payment commenced,” Sassa said.

Vusumuzi Mahaye, a senior KZN Sassa communications manager, said: “Arrangements were made to transport the cash from the heist scene to the Melmoth area where it was (designated) to go.”

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the SAPS Special Task Force (STF) and the National Intervention Unit (NIU) received information about the heist attempt.

“While on the R34, the CIT vehicle came across logs on the road and, as the vehicle slowed down, suspects opened fire on them,” he said.

Naidoo said members of the STF and the NIU returned fire, forcing the suspects to flee in a Toyota Hilux bakkie that was later found abandoned in Mtunzini.

“One member of the SAPS was injured during the shooting. No money was taken and no arrests have yet been made,” said Naidoo.

National Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said that “no major incidents” had been reported on Wednesday.

“I am pleased to report that the August payment cycle went without any major incidents in all of today’s pilot sites, spread throughout all the nine provinces. The post office made 100% cash payments at all its pilot sites,” said Letsatsi.

Last month, glitches in the new payment system - that saw the post office take over from Cash Paymaster Services - saw 700 000 Sassa beneficiaries experiencing technical, communication and processing constraints, and they were unable to transact with the new Sassa SA post office (Sapo) cards.

Sassa said the problems were with the infrastructure being unable to deal with the large volume of transactions at the same time. Telkom had now been brought in to host the Sapo IT system, to make transacting faster.

The Mercury