INCONVENIENCE: Selina Shabangu showing her old and new cards, saying the old one has no money and the new one isn't working.
Thousands of social grant beneficiaries were left without money because of a glitch with the new SA Post Office (Sapo) cards that replaced the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) cards.

According to Abraham Mahlangu, Sassa's acting chief executive, the glitch is as a result of a backlog in processing the beneficiaries on the new system.

Mahlangu, responding to the social development portfolio committee in Parliament, said Sassa was facing a backlog as the number of people on the beneficiary list had increased from 200000 to 934000 on their new system.

“Rest assured we are handling the matter. I am monitoring the system on an hourly basis. The system kicked in on Tuesday night. The technical glitch is being attended to and beneficiaries are getting their dues,” he said.

However, Mahlangu did not mention the Sassa strike which ended yesterday when the Labour Court struck off the roll an interdict brought by Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu last week to halt the Public Servants Association (PSA) strike.

The PSA represents about 5180 of Sassa's 8575 employees, according to an affidavit filed by Ivan Fredericks, the union's general secretary.

Leon Gilbert, the PSA's assistant general manager for collective bargaining, said workers would be back at work from today, as per the court ruling.

The PSA has submitted an initial wage-hike demand of between 11% and 13%.

However, all of this is cold comfort for those turned away at paypoints.

Beneficiary Rosey Pizaro, who was at the Nyanga Zolani Centre paypoint, said she had not received her payment.

“They said we must change the cards; we did that, and now the new cards that we were issued do not reflect payment.

"Sassa officials here say they don't know what's going on. We need that money for groceries, as my children are hungry now,” she said.

Pensioner Ntombizakhe Maposa, from Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape, said when she went to the local Sassa offices, she was told to continue going to the ATM to check whether her funds were available.

“This is a huge inconvenience. We have funeral policies, debit orders that go off monthly, plus groceries to buy.

"We also can't go queue at an ATM and wait at Sassa offices for feedback on payment,” she said.

Provincial Sassa spokesperson Shivani Wahab said: “The migration from CPS (Cash Paymaster Services) to Sapo has been slightly challenging as there were technical challenges experienced with the system.

“We are aware that beneficiaries are experiencing problems with the electronic payment of their social grants.

“Sassa wishes to apologise for the inconvenience caused to the beneficiaries. Sassa and Sapo are working tirelessly to find a solution to this problem and ensure that all beneficiary services are restored in the shortest possible time,” Wahab said.

A Constitutional Court order instructed Sassa to phase out the CPS contract to distribute social grants payment to beneficiaries.

Sassa, in partnership with Sapo, now has to transition all CPS accounts to Sapo by September 30.

Portfolio committee chairperson Zoleka Capa said the success or failure of this transition was the responsibility of Minister Shabangu and her department.

“Sassa is a vehicle established to disburse these funds to beneficiaries, while the responsibility of the poor remains with (the Department of) Social Development.

"The Post Office is a vehicle for Sassa to disburse these funds cost effectively using another government entity in a partnership,” Capa said.

Sapo provincial spokesperson Martie Gilchrist said they would meet the deadline despite the challenges.

The Star