Introduction to the Campaign
In July 2011, the Black Sash Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project (CMAP) began to uncover violations of Norms and Standards at pay points, as well as evidence of irregular, unauthorised and undocumented third party debit deductions from the social grants beneficiaries’ bank accounts. We have brought these violations to the attention of SASSA and the Department of Social Development as outlined below. We launched the Stop SASSA-CPS Debits Campaign, in 2013, to draw attention to the crisis of debit deductions with the view to find a remedy that will stop the pilfering of grant beneficiaries' bank accounts and protect their social security benefits.
In October and November 2013 the Black Sash launched the ‘Stop SASSA-CPS Debits Campaign’. We have secured the support of a range of partners detailed above.
Black Sash calls for:
- Amendments to the Social Assistance Act to make it illegal for any debit deductions from the bank accounts of social assistance grant beneficiaries and to criminalise the use of social grants as collateral by lenders. Parliament amends the National Credit Act and related legislation so that social assistance grants are not considered as income.
- The in-sourcing of social assistance grants back to SASSA given the endemic violations of service level agreements and that this is the primary responsibility of SASSA and the Department of Social Development, not to be outsourced.
- The Department of Social Development (DSD), SASSA and third party service providers to be held individually and jointly accountable for debit deductions from grant beneficiaries banking accounts. The Department of Social Development and SASSA carry government’s mandate for the implementation of the social security system in line with the legislation and policies and have to ensure that SLAs do not dilute or negate any rights, regulations, norms and standards as required by law. SASSA has an obligation to ensure that service level agreements with third parties protect the rights of grant beneficiaries to full payment and the integrity of the beneficiary database (government’s intellectual property) from illegal bank deductions that place vulnerable households at risk.
- The Department of Social Development, SASSA and third parties to be responsible for providing recourse and compensation for these deductions. We argue that the onus should be on SASSA firstly and legally, so that whoever they have a service provision agreement with, they must ensure that other third parties do not infiltrate their payment system legally. Moreover, with regards to ensuring that the rights of the child are protected, it is the duty of parents/caregivers and the State to protect this money for the child/children’s needs.
- The Minister of Social Development to establish the long overdue and much needed Independent Inspectorate, that would among others, conduct investigations; ensure the maintenance of the integrity of the social assistance frameworks and systems; execute internal financial audits and audits on compliance by the Agency with regulatory and policy measures and instruments; and investigate fraud, corruption and other forms of financial and service mismanagement and criminal activity. This was anticipated to be established by February 2013.
What can you do?
We ask for your support for the campaign through the following actions:
- Register your cases of debit deductions and complete a community report at your local advice office.
- Engage your local SASSA by lodging a formal complaint. Keep records and track the process. See toll free details below.
- Engage in Rights Education linked to the Campaign.
- Watch the Black Sash website (www.blacksash.org.za), facebook https://www.facebook.com/BlackSashSouthAfrica), and the media for next steps.
More information on this Campaign:
Download the flyer "Stop SASSA-CPS Debits Campaign!"