The new and old Sassa cards are seen side by side. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - There was jubilation among parliamentarians on Thursday when they were told that Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) was no longer involved in the payment of social grants.

This emerged when the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) held a briefing about the takeover of social grant payments by the South African Post Office (Sapo).

Briefing the social development portfolio committee, acting chief executive Abraham Mahlangu said: “It gives me pleasure to report that today the payment of social grants happened on a legit and lawful contract in that collaboration between government institutions managed to take over payment of grants.

“It gives us pleasure that we have met the Constitutional Court order of saying we will not use the services of CPS after the end of September,” Mahlangu said.

His statement was met with jubilation from excited MPs, who could not hide their delight at the news.

The IFP’s Liezl van der Merwe said: “It’s a very happy day because we got rid of CPS.”

Acting chairperson Sibongile Tsoleli was equally delighted. “It’s a very beautiful day, a beautiful month for all of us. I think CPS is history.

“I don’t want to hear that name again,” Tsoleli said.

The DA’s Bridget Masango echoed the sentiments. “I must join the colleagues in congratulating Sassa and Sapo for ridding us of CPS. One is very excited at this prospect of not having CPS in the system,” Masango said.

Mahlangu said Sassa had disbursed R8.4bn to Sapo and 86% had already been paid out in the October cycle.

“This gives us a good indication that we are headed towards making sure that we stabilise payment of social grants through government-to-government co-operation,” he said.

Head of strategy Raphaahle Ramokgopa said out of 8.5 million beneficiaries that needed to be migrated from CPS to banking, 6.9m had swopped to Sapo cards and one million to other banks. The number of beneficiaries using the old Sassa card had gone down from 868000 to 600000.

“We hope by November 1 we will have migrated them either to banking or to a Sapo environment,” she said.

She also said termination notice had been served on CPS, which had been ordered to transfer all balances in old Sassa cards to beneficiaries.

“We also agreed with CPS to return all information they have. We negotiated that an auditor must audit all the books and information and ensure they remove beneficiaries from their systems,” Ramokgopa said.

She said infrastructure was being improved at Sapo since it was not designed to deal with such a high volume of beneficiaries.

“The other option we are working on is staggered payments so that not everyone goes and gets their money in one day.”

However, security remained a concern in the payments of grants at Sapo branches.

“There has been a number of reported robberies not only in Sapo branches but in merchants. Most happen in the first two days,” Ramokgopa said.

Van der Merwe said it was concerning that beneficiaries were more vulnerable than before.

Mahlangu said the robberies had declined this month compared to August and September when Sapo took over the payments.

He ascribed this to police visibility after the security cluster was asked to intervene.

Political Bureau