Postbank Isn't Equipped To Deal With Sassa Grant Payments - Black Sash

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The technical glitch on Postbank’s payment system left thousands of social grant beneficiaries across the country without their social grant payouts last week. Government has been urged to step in to avoid future issues with grant payments. 

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Human rights activism group, Black Sash is holding government accountable for the technical glitches Postbank experienced when paying social grants to South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) beneficiaries.

This comes after many desperate Sassa beneficiaries struggled to withdraw funds due to Postbank's technical glitches during last week's scheduled Sassa grant payment dates.

Beneficiaries using the Postbank-Sassa gold card could not make withdrawals or initiate transactions at ATMs and various retailers other than the Postbank point of sale (POS), despite the state agency having made payments for the beneficiaries’ accounts.

While the technical glitches have been resolved, the backlogs caused further delays, as many Sassa beneficiaries complained that they were still unable to access their grants on Friday, specifically pensioners.

Thandi Henkeman, Regional Manager of Black Sash in the Western and Northern Cape says that that since Postbank took over the payments from the Post Office in 2022, payment challenges have persisted.

Since Postbank has taken over last year, we have yet to have a smooth-running payment month.

Herkerman stressed that Postbank’s systems are not equipped to deal with the payments and therefore breaches are experienced. This means that when their system tries to repair itself, money is only reaching certain beneficiary accounts.

DSD to step in

Henkeman says that while Postbank is at the face of all of the issues, the responsibility lies with the Department of Social Development (DSD) who has the obligation to protect and fulfil the rights to social assistance.

She continued, “It's imperative that we hold them [Department of Social Development] accountable to ensure that beneficiaries receive their grants in full and timeously and with dignity.”

The group says they worry that there was a failure by the DSD and Sassa, prior to partnering with Postbank, to do proper due diligence to determine whether Postbank had the capacity, expertise, and infrastructure to administer the payment of social grants.

There is a constitutional obligation to provide social assistance and so it falls on the Department of Social Development to ensure that social assistance is enjoyed by beneficiaries.

Impact of payment delays on Sassa beneficiaries

Hundreds of beneficiaries were left with no other option but to sleepover at payment sights, as they could not afford to commute back home as a result of the delays.

Beneficiaries raised concerns frustrated and desperate as they were able to buy necessities such as food or electricity.

Meanwhile, others said they were forced to take out loans because they have not been able to access their grant money. These loans caused further financial burdens on people desperately in need of money to feed themselves and their families.

Black Sash has encouraged beneficiaries who are still experiencing issues to call, SMS, or WhatsApp their helpline number on 072 663 3739 or 063 610 1865 or send an email to [email protected]

Postbank backlog cleared

According to Postbank spokesperson Bongani Diako, all ATM Sassa grant transactions access had been fully restored. Daiko said the issue affected a significant number of beneficiaries.

There are approximately 5,2 million people who are using Postbank-Sassa cards. The issue at hand regarding the ability to access funds affected around just above 400 000 beneficiaries, which we have now since processed the money back into their accounts.

This meant that all beneficiaries using the Postbank Sassa Gold cards could access their grants immediately via ATMs and Post Office branches.

Daiko explained that all access to ATM Sassa grant transactions were fully restored, with the entity attending to a few exceptions where some beneficiaries’ money is not in their account.

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Sassa confirming grant payment dates

The Postbank has assured South Africans that its social grant payment system has been restored. While this will come as welcome news to all social grant beneficiaries, millions of pensioners face a dire situation as they wait for their older persons' grants to be paid.

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