We're Working on Fixing Issues

ELROY Paulse, national advocacy officer of the human rights organisation Black Sash says as far back as July 2011, the Black Sash Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project (CMAP) began to uncover violations/breaches of Norms and Standards at pay points.

"The Black Sash Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project began to uncover violations of Norms and Standards at pay' points," he says. "It also showed that there is 'increasing proof 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.

"These deductions became an even bigger problem after SASSA granted the tender to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), a private company that is part of the Not1 group to distribute grants. "The Black Sash launched the Stop SASSA-CPS Debits Campaign in 2013, to draw attention to the crisis of these debit deductions. We did this so that we could find a remedy that will stop the stealing of grant beneficiaries' bank accounts and protect their social security benefits.

"Since then, all over South Africa, there have been a lot of deductions that beneficiaries do not understand, often did not sign for, and want paid back.

"Thousands of people want to know about unlawful airtime deductions, 'loan repayments' that do not stop when they expecxvu n to, and several other queries. These loans even SASSA and the Minister of Social Development calls unlawful.

"In November 2013, the Constitutional Court found that the R10 billion contract awarded to CPS was constitutionally invalid. Since February 2014, the court is holding hearings to determine a remedy to this Judgement. "In February 2014, the Black Sash and its partners met with Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to discuss the crisis around unlawful debit deductions from grants.

"Our Campaign calls for amendments and a numbor of actions to stop those deductions, like:

* For the Social Assistance Act to make it illegal for any debit deductions from the bunk accounts of grant beneficiaries and to criminalise the use of social grants as collateral/guarantee by lenders.

*For the Department of Social Development, Sassa and third party service providers to be held accountable for unlawful debit deductions from grant beneficiaries banking accounts.

"To assist us, register your cases of debit deductions and complete a community report at your local advice office, or contact the Black Sash."