File picture: David Ritchie/Independent Media
Johannesburg - Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) could be hauled before court for illegal deductions on social grant recipients.

Several recipients of SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants told The Sunday Independent of their frustration at the continuing deductions, despite a Constitutional Court ruling barring CPS and its subsidiary partners from making deductions.

Apart from the illegal deductions, the court ruling also ordered CPS to refrain from giving the personal details of recipients to its subsidiary companies or partners for marketing their services, including airtime and loans offers.

But the court’s ruling appears to have been ignored or undermined, judging by the complaints of grant recipients.

The Black Sash, which last month lodged an urgent Constitutional Court application to stop the deductions, was compiling a report with the aim of filing a contempt of court application against CPS.

Among the recipients who complained about money being deducted this month was Nhlanhla Tivane from Palm Ridge in Ekurhuleni, who said it had been two years since deductions were made from her child- support grant.

“They have been deducting R100 for prepaid airtime since I started to receive my son’s grant in 2015,” the mother of a two-year-old said.

“I have complained to Sassa several times and they promised to cancel the subscription, but nothing came out of it.”

In other cases where deductions of loans and prepaid electricity were made, some grant recipients have admitted entering into such deals.

“I know about deductions. I took a loan of R1 000 from Sassa in November, and they deduct R200 every month. I also buy electricity with my EasyPay card and they deduct that R50,” said 70-year-old Angelina Mese.

“Although there are rumours the EasyPay card is illegal, I was enjoying using it because I can also access my money at banks. I can even buy airtime when I need it,” she said.

However, some recipients who admitted to signing contracts complained that the deductions were continuing even after the contracts had lapsed.

“I took a R700 from Net1 in March last year and I paid it in September. But even today, they still take my money,” said a mother of four who only identified herself as Anna.

She was expecting to receive R1520 for her child grant but said she had been receiving R1300 since October.

“I have raised the matter with Sassa and they said they will resolve it, but I gave up on them. I even accepted that they will never fix it,” she said.

Another recipient, who said she took a loan with Net1 in 2015, said: “I was supposed to receive R760 for both kids, but I only receive R380 since I took that loan.”

The situation was more dire for Makgotso Moloi, who said she received only R210 for her daughter. “I have been receiving a full payment but was shocked when I got R210 this month.

“I was very worried because I paid the loan I took earlier last year. Now I am worried how my child is going to survive. They didn’t even inform me why they deducted the money.”

Maria Mokoena, 69, said an amount of R60 had been deducted from her money since 2015.

“But later it was increased to R120,” she said, adding that when she complained, Sassa officials told her it was likely her granddaughter had bought prepaid airtime using her card.

Sassa spokesperson Kgomoco Diseko said the agency was concerned about “illegal deductions” being made.

He urged recipients experiencing unauthorised deductions to call the Sassa call centre on 0800601011.

Sunday Independent