Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu.

Johannesburg - Social grant payments by the SA Post Office (Sapo) are continuing without any glitches, Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu said on Thursday.

''The first of August marked a historic milestone for the partnership between the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and South African Post Office (Sapo) regarding the payment of social grants. I am pleased to report that the August payment cycle went without any major incidents in all of yesterday’s pilots sites spread throughout all the nine provinces. Sapo made 100 percent cash payments at all its pilot sites,'' Shabangu said in a statement.

She attributed the improved service to the upgraded post office IT systems that now meet banking industry standards. A new grants payment system and a new Sassa card were also introduced as the agency comes to the end of its controversial contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). 

The new card can also be used to withdraw cash at banks and cash merchants, said Shabangu.

''A few incidents were experienced where beneficiaries with new Sassa cards attempted to collect their grant monies at pay points but were redirected to ATMs and participating merchants. Beneficiaries are made aware that the new Sassa card functions the same way as any bank card with a PIN, and does not make use of biometrics as a method of verification.''

The CPS tender granted to pay out social grants was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2017, obliging Sassa to look for a new service provider to disburse grants to millions of beneficiaries. The old Sassa card will no longer work after September this year, when the invalid CPS contract ends. 

Last month, a system glitch resulted in thousands of beneficiaries not able to access their cash at designated pay points across the country. Many were turned away by Sassa officials who cited technical difficulties with the system, prompting widespread criticism from opposition parties and social media users.

The South African government pays at least 17 million beneficiaries monthly grants that include child support, old-age pension and foster child care.

African News Agency/ANA