Lo­cal ini­tia­tive fights against de­duc­tions on Sassa grants

The Witness - - NEWS - NOKUTHULA KHANYILE • nokuthula.khanyile@me­dia24.com

VAR­I­OUS Pi­eter­mar­itzburg­based civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions are ral­ly­ing be­hind a cam­paign to do away with de­duc­tions from South African So­cial Ser­vice Agency (Sassa) bank ac­counts.

The “Hands off our grants” cam­paign which was launched in 2013 is a na­tional ad­vo­cacy cam­paign of the Black Sash.

It was es­tab­lished to chal­lenge the busi­ness prac­tices fa­cil­i­tated by the cur­rent out­sourced Sassa and Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices (CPS) con­tract re­sult­ing in unau­tho­rised and of­ten fraud­u­lent de­duc­tions from so­cial grants.

Yes­ter­day, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions led by the Than­danani Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion launched the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg ini­tia­tive.

The lo­cal ini­tia­tive, called the “Bot­tle­top” cam­paign, will in­vite ben­e­fi­cia­ries to par­tic­i­pate by col­lect­ing one bot­tle top for ev­ery R10 de­duc­tion off their pay­outs.

Than­danani manag­ing di­rec­tor Dun­can Andrew said the cam­paign is aimed at en­sur­ing that lo­cal civil or­gan­i­sa­tions raise aware­ness and gen­er­ate pub­lic pres­sure for a change to the cur­rent sys­tem.

He said this will cre­ate greater pro­tec­tion for grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

“This is­sue af­fects thou­sands of grant re­cip­i­ents in the Mid­lands area and ... the is­sue of the grant pay­ment sys­tem is a topi­ cal is­sue.

“We all work with vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple and un­der­stand that grants are crit­i­cal,” Andrew said

Af­ter the bot­tle tops have been col­lected from the grant re­cip­i­ents by Than­danani they will be given to an artist to cre­ate an art piece rep­re­sent­ing the ex­tent of the is­sue.

“The cam­paign will also gather data and case stud­ies to feed into the Black Sash cam­paign to see the ex­tent of the de­duc­tions.”

Black Sash KZN re­gional man­ager Evash­nee Naidu said the big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing ben­e­fi­cia­ries thus far is get­ting a re­fund of all the money that has been de­ ducted.

“Many ben­e­fi­cia­ries have re­ported that once they have ini­ti­ated their in­ves­ti­ga­tion with the Sassa branded ac­count those de­duc­tions have stopped.

“The chal­lenge has been get­ting re­funds for all the monies that have been de­ducted off their ac­counts.”

Naidu said there is a lot of anger from ben­e­fi­cia­ries who feel ex­ploited.

“There is a Sassa­based re­course mech­a­nism in place but very few ben­e­fi­cia­ries on the ground have re­ceived their monies back.

“They feel that they were not pro­tected through the sys­tem.”

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