Local initiative fights against deductions on Sassa grants
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.”