Through a citizen monitoring initiative, Black Sash has found that many SASSA beneficiaries have experienced unauthorised deductions. Individuals have reported deductions that have left them with only R 60 instead of their entitled amount of R 1,040. Many of the cases were reported at the Black Sash monitoring station at the Athlone Civic Centre.
Black Sash expressed frustration at the fact that individuals are left helpless to the system.
“While Black Sash is heading the campaign, we actually partner with community based organizations, in this case, mostly advice offices. We would prefer if people do not come directly to Black Sash because we no longer offer advice. Whilst campaigning we do give advice, alternatively, we would prefer that individuals approach their nearest advice office,” said Colleen Ryan from Black Sash.
Of 39 cases submitted, the total amount of deductions amounted to R 19,105. These deductions took place within a three hour period of monitoring. The nature of the deductions included child support grants and disability grants.
“I think that peoples private and confidential information has been made vulnerable due to the banking system,” said Ryan.
Black Sash noted that an individual born in 1922 only had 57 cents in her account, when in fact she is entitled to R 1,440.
Black Sash encouraged individuals to approach the Beneficiary Payment Dispute resolution Mechanism, launched by SASSA. The system is designed to assist victims of unauthorized deductions. Complainants need to obtain a printed statement of their deductions accompanied by an affidavit that states that they dispute the deductions. SASSA also has a standardized affidavit that is signed by the Commissioner of Oath which they have signed on the premises.
Unfortunately, it has been found that many individuals who have approached the SASSA offices have been sent back to the pay point.
With regard to the ability of SASSA beneficiaries to secure their personal bank accounts Black Sash has indicated that they have not discovered any method. Instead they have found that individuals are victim to multiple large deductions. In one such case an 88 year old individual from Nyanga has experienced deductions since May 2015, which amounted to R 2,060 by November 2015. Black Sash later discovered that the deductions were for a loan in Uitenhage. There is no indication how an individual in Uitenhage gained access to the victims personal information.
“People do not understand the banking system, SASSA has not done enough to educate individuals about what to look out for when they open the new bank account,” Black Sash stressed.
Black Sash discovered that many people do not know the amount that they are entitled to receive. The organization furthermore emphasized the need for information pamphlets that clearly stipulate the various categories of SASSA beneficiaries and their respective grants.
Black Sash is a human rights organization that advocates against social injustices, and has recently celebrated its 60th birthday. The organization focuses on rights based education, citizen monitoring, and engage in advocacy initiatives. One of their biggest campaigns is the Hands off Our Grants campaign, also known as ‘HOOG’, which began in 2012 as a result of unauthorized deductions by SASSA.
VOC (Thakira Desai)