Black Sash Media Statements

The Welfare Of Social Grant Beneficiaries Must Be A Priority During Transition Process

PRESS RELEASE

Monday 23 July 2018

In May, SASSA added a further 2.5 million social grant beneficiaries who access their grants via cash at pay points to the SAPO contract. Changing a major system such social grant payments is complex. Black Sash and its partners do not underestimate the enormity of the migration to the new SASSA/SAPO card involving approximately 8.4 million beneficiaries.

Grant beneficiaries must receive their grants monthly at an agreed time. Grant beneficiaries must have access to all their funds. Grant beneficiaries must receive the full cash value of their grant without deductions.

The Panel of Experts, in its July 2018 report to Constitutional Court, states that at the beginning of July approximately 700 000 beneficiaries were unable to transact on the new SASSA branded SAPO card due to technical, communication and processing constraints. The support offered to SASSA and SAPO by the SARB, PASA, Bankserv and Telkom to deal with the technical difficulties is commendable. We sincerely hope that SASSA and SAPO learnt from this experience and put in place permanent solutions.

The Panel of Experts warns that a repeat of the “technical glitch” in August will negatively impact on the reputation and credibility of both SASSA and SAPO. The two organisations must work in a planned (taking account of all the risks) and systematic manner to ensure a seamless transition to the new dispensation and end the constitutionally unlawful Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract.

The Panel of Experts further highlighted that beneficiary education about the SASSA/SAPO bank account including Terms and Conditions, be undertaken as a matter of urgency, and that communication efforts be more targeted. It is therefore essential for SASSA and SAPO step up the education and training of staff so that they are well informed and able to share the information with beneficiaries and respond accurately to queries.

Many grant beneficiaries, during the latest card swop process ended up with the Easy Pay Everywhere (EPE) green card often through devious and unethical means. For example, grant beneficiaries are told by CPS and Net1 sale agents that the EPE card is the new SASSA/SAPO card. The Panel of Experts also reported that approximately 2.3 million Easy Pay Everywhere (EPE) green cards were opened with ‘electronic mandates’ but only 35 000 beneficiary mandate forms in hard copy were submitted. SASSA must not accept “electronic mandates” for the EPE card after 1 April 2018 onwards. Furthermore the reconciliation of the beneficiary payment mandate forms (Annexure C) in hard copy for the Easy Pay Everywhere (green) card must be fast-tracked and cannot wait until September 2018.

Black Sash welcomes the Panel of Experts’ request to the Constitutional Court to instruct Net1 to provide information on the revenue streams and costs it is generating, to assess the extent of undue profit. The revenue includes charging grant beneficiaries a R10 monthly maintenance fee on the SASSA branded Grindrod bank accounts since 01 April 2018 and income generated from charging beneficiaries ATM withdrawal fees. The Black Sash and its partners consider these charges to grant beneficiaries unacceptable as it further decreases the cash value of the grant while Net1 profits at the expense of the poor.

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