The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has made the decision to close some of its cash pay points due to a decrease in the number of people using the service. The South African Post Office (SAPO) has been distributing social grants on behalf of SASSA electronically since April last year and in cash since September.
SAPO briefed the parliament portfolio committee last week, explaining that the system is not working in some areas and has proven to be costly and risky.
General manager Henry de Grass explained that most of the pay points that will be shut down are in rural areas. SASSA and SAPO monitored pay points over a period of time and those whose records showed less than 10 beneficiaries using that point will be closed.
“It is a decision we have taken with SAPO because we can’t have a situation where it will occur expenditures and where there are no beneficiaries. It cost them about R30 000 per day to ensure the cash in transit takes the monies to the various pay points.
De Grass said of 1714 cash pay points, 14 obsolete ones were identified in the Western Cape, mostly in rural areas.
“As from March, we already started doing away with some cash pay points where there were no beneficiaries. This does not apply to the bulk of the pay points, for example your merchants or post offices.”
He went on to explain that SAPO takes money to the areas where there no ATMs for beneficiaries to draw their money. This only happens on the 4th of the month and because the money is dispensed into their accounts on the first, most opt to travel and receive their pay-out sooner.
However, De Grass said plans will be made for those who cannot travel.
“It will be more cost effective to transport those limited number of beneficiaries to the nearest pay point.”
He further highlighted that over 24 000 beneficiaries have not swopped their cards and noted that they will now need to go to SASSA offices and provide reasons why they hadn’t come for the swop.
“The month of march was the last month in which the money was available on the new card for them to do the card swop. Our regulations state that if the beneficiaries do not come and collect their grants for three consecutive months, then we will suspend that grant.”
The GM said the reason some Post Offices run out of money is because a limited amount is sent through to reduce the chances of the place being targeted for robbery.
“What SAPU is trying to have money dropped off so if there is the case of robbery, they don’t get away with as much money. If the beneficiaries would just be patient, the money will be made available. It’s something we work on with the post office and we rely on the offices to inform the security companies to hurry up with the dropping off of funds.”
De Grass reminded beneficiaries that the new SASSA card is now also a debit card which can be used to buy all the essentials such as groceries, electricity or airtime. He reminded beneficiaries however that they should avoid ATMS which will have additional charges.
“We encourage beneficiaries to go to merchants and avoid ATMS. Each bank has different transaction fees and even balance inquiries, which you will be charged for. And please, always protect your pin.”
In a statement issued by SASSA Gauteng spokesperson Nandi Mosia, beneficiaries are advised of the following annual increased to be effective from April 1
• R80 increase on old age grant from R1 700 to R1 780 and for beneficiaries over 75 years from R1 720 to R1 800
• R80 increase on disability grant from R1 700 to R1 780
• R80 increase on war veterans grant from R1 720 to R1 800
• R40 increase on foster care grant from R960 to R1 000
• R20 increase on child support grant from R410 to R430 – the grant will increase to R420 on April 1 and to R430 on October 1.