The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) says it is tackling maladministration within the organisation, amid criticism by the Western Cape Department of Social Development that it was not managing social grants effectively. Sassa has come under fire after a recent spate of administrative issues that have left a number of grant recipients pennyless when they had attempted to draw their grant. This week, MEC Albert Fritz said he was dealing with an influx of complaints from elderly people who claim they either did not receive their monthly grant or monies had been deducted without their consent.
Sassa provides its recipients with a debit card, to make their monthly grants easily accessible. This system allows the recipient to draw their monthly payouts at any ATM, Shoprite, Checkers and other pay points. However, this also allows for debit orders.
According to Sassa Western Cape head Henry Le Gras, the agency has a policy, which the beneficiary agrees to a debit order of a maximum of 10% on the monthly grant. "If the person is receiving R1350 per month, a total of R135 will be deducted," said Le Gras. However, Le Gras said there have been reports of illegal deductions from certain beneficiaries who did not agree to this particular policy in accordance with Sassa.
"The illegal deductions, which some beneficiaries have not given permission for, relates to cellphones, airtime, or when they made use of an ATM. This has caused quite a lot of unhappiness across the country," Le Gras said.
Beneficiaries from all over South Africa have complained of the same incidents with regard to their grants, some saying there had been no money to draw at all.
According to Le Gras, the National Minister for Social Development Bathabile Dlamini has now put together a task team
consisting of Black Sash, NGO's, social development officials as well as Sassa officials to look into this particular matter and to make recommendations.
However, La Gras advised those beneficiaries who have been a victim of these illegal deductions, to contact the Sassa offices immediately.
"We [Sassa] will take the particulars of the concerned beneficiaries who have come forward about these illegal deductions
and forward their information to Net1, a subsidiary of the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) who will then conduct an investigation. If it is discovered that the particular beneficiary did not give permission for these deductions then
the recipient will be refunded," Le Gras explained.
Sassa beneficiaries need to be aware that when they go to a ATM, there will be administrative deductions from their grants. However, if they use another pay point such as supermarket chain, there is no deductions.