Political protests which turned into violence and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng caused more than 1 400 automatic teller machines (ATMs), 269 bank branches and several Post Offices to be vandalised or destroyed. Of the damaged ATMs, 565 were in Gauteng and 650 in KZN and of the destroyed bank branches 126 were in Gauteng and 140 were in KZN. This caused the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to postpone their payments to their beneficiaries.
This meant that approximately 12,5 million social grants were not paid to beneficiaries across the country.
The Banking Association South Africa has now released a statement saying that banks, retailers and the South African Post Office (SAPO) are working together with SASSA to ensure that there are cash and grant pay points within a reasonable distance of beneficiaries who were in areas where infrastructure has been destroyed.
"This does not mean that all grant beneficiaries will be able to make use of their usual cash withdrawal points, which may have been vandalised and not yet repaired," the statement read.
They have said that from 1 August 2021 to 30 September 2021 social grant recipients who live in areas where ATMs and bank branches have been destroyed or vandalised, are now able to use any ATM, including those which are not operated by their own bank without incurring any additional charges.
Banks are now in the process of assessing the damage to their infrastructure and developing recovery plans.
SASSA is also working with banks and other stakeholders to assist with the re-introduction of the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant until March 2022. This grant was introduced in 2020 and is meant to provide relief to individuals over the age of 18, who had lost their jobs or could not find jobs due to Covid-19. The number of people eligible has been increased because individual caregivers who receive a Child Support Grant will now be able to access this R350 grant as well.