SASSA beneficiaries smiling all the way to the bank
about two million South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiaries have had their grant money paid directly into their bank or post office account thanks to the agency’s decision to make electronic payments.
“It is part of fully complying with orders from the Constitutional Court and phasing out Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), the current service provider,” said SASSA’s national spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi.
In March last year the Constitutional Court extended SASSA’s contract with CPS for a year to fulfil the constitutional obligation of paying social grants to beneficiaries.
The Constitutional Court also ordered SASSA to advise beneficiaries of the benefits of having their grant paid directly into their bank or post office account.
CPS is responsible for the distribution of social grants to over 17 million beneficiaries. Its contract would have come to an end on 31 March 2017 but the Department of Social Welfare has approached the Constitutional Court requesting that CPS continue paying some recipients after that date.
The phase in phase out approach to the CPS contract has led to a number of changes already planned or implemented.
From 1 March 2018 SASSA will be able to directly deposit the grants into about 5.7 million beneficiaries’ accounts.
“This will bring about 80 percent of payment transactions under the control of SASSA by the end of March 2018,” Letsatsi said.
SASSA is negotiating with the banking industry to develop a low-cost bank account, which will be subsidised by SASSA, so that beneficiaries get the full value of their grants without paying bank charges.
“These accounts will not allow electronic debits and are intended to protect beneficiaries from unauthorised debits, which have been a problem in the past.”
By April, the only beneficiaries whose payments won't fall under SASSA’s direct control are those paid in cash at SASSA pay points.
“SASSA has already gone to the market for the cash payment category by advertising a tender. This represents just less than three million beneficiaries,” he said.
SASSA also conducted a countrywide awareness campaign to inform beneficiaries about these initiatives and to eliminate fake messages doing the rounds which state that beneficiaries must swop cards.