Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Mondli Gungubele read out a joint apology on behalf of several government departments regarding the non-payment of South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants to thousands of beneficiaries in September 2023.
The Minister assured grant recipients that the system is now fully restored and operational. They declared that Systems challenges experienced in September 2023 are a thing of the past.
The manual process of reversing outstanding funds in exceptional cases where beneficiaries are not credited their money as yet or where the full amount due to them has not been credited in full is receiving urgent attention.
We acknowledge the financial and logistical inconvenience that the system failure has caused to the millions of our people who depend solely on social grants for survival. We profusely apologise to those affected as we are aware of the grave inconvenience this has caused. We want to assure the public that government is committed to continuously improving our systems to provide a reliable service.
The technical issue, which affected Postbank on both Tuesday, 5 September 2023 and Wednesday 6 September 2023, has led to a backlog of funds yet to be credited to the accounts of affected beneficiaries.
The technical issues impacted pensioners and disabled people who hold Postbank Gold Cards. These pensioners and disabled people visited grant payment points on dates dictated by the Sassa grant payment schedule.
Grant payment backlogs primarily impacted beneficiaries who experienced transaction timeouts while attempting to withdraw their Sassa funds on Tuesday and the early part of Wednesday when the old-age and disability grants were being paid.
During the occurrence of technical challenges, grant funds were not automatically reserved in the bank accounts of individuals attempting withdrawals. To rectify this, Postbank has initiated the process of manually reversing these funds into the bank accounts of affected grant beneficiaries.
Around 600,000 people were affected by this. The majority of these individuals have since been paid their grants according to the minister. However, the manual reversal of grant funds is a timely process and some grant beneficiaries have not yet received their grant money.
The reversal process commenced last week and remains ongoing. The manual reversing of transactions is a timely process. The Postbank CEO said around 90% of the 600,000 people have been paid their grants.
The Postbank noted with concern occurrences where individuals were attempting to defraud the Postbank and receive a second grant payment by claiming they were not paid even if they had received their money. The Postbank is confident in its ability to prevent the double payment of social grants.
Postbank has confirmed that children's grant payments scheduled for Thursday, 7 September 2023 proceeded without issues across all grant payment channels
Sassa Gold Cards Still Valid
Minister Gungubele has said that grant beneficiaries do not need to apply for new Sassa cards. This comes after several grant beneficiaries were reportedly informed that they needed to renew their Sassa gold cards to access their grants.
Sassa announced that the validity of all gold cards would be extended until 31 December 2023. This announcement, made in May 2023 meant that grant beneficiaries can use their expired Sassa Gold Cards until the end of the year. This remains the case according to Gungubele.
The decision to extend the validity of Sassa gold cards was made as thousands of beneficiary gold cards were expiring and the capacity to replace expired gold cards was not available.
The Strategy To Replace Expiring Sassa Gold Cards
The DSD says the Postbank will continue with the issuance of new Sassa Gold Cards to beneficiaries. There are also plans in place that will leverage the vast footprint of retail stores to assist in the issuance of new Sassa Gold Cards.
Postbank has also reached an agreement with certain merchants who will assist them with the issuing of cards. More information on this will be communicated by the Postbank in due course.
Grant beneficiaries may also elect to change their grant payment and have their money paid directly into their bank account. Beneficiaries can visit their nearest Sassa office to change their grant payment method.