Thousands of moms left without ‘pap geld’

2014-07-25 00:00

A COMPUTER glitch has left stranded thousands of women who rely on the Justice Department to pay out their “pap geld” — or maintenance money.

Mthunzi Mhaga, ministerial spokesman for the Justice Department, said the problem — affecting about 34 000 of a total of 246 000 maintenance beneficiaries nationally — was due to improvements being made to the department’s electronic funds transfer system. He apologised for the inconvenience.

Late yesterday Mhaga said the department’s national office no longer had a record of any backlogs in the maintenance payments. However, The Witness was told by some affected beneficiaries that they had not yet received their money yesterday. One distraught woman from Pietermaritzburg said she’d had to take out a loan to cover her family’s basic needs this month as she is unemployed.

A number of women who contacted The Witness said they had gone to the magistrate’s court after not being paid this month to inquire about their money, but left feeling angry, disappointed and frustrated. “I don’t know what to do as I only had taxi money to come and collect my maintenance. They are telling us that they are updating the system. They should have done this before we came here. But now we have to wait for them to finish before we get our money,” said a woman, who wanted to remain anonymous.

Another was in tears as she told The Witness she relies on the maintenance to support her three children. “I lost my job last year. I do temporary work on weekends, which is not enough for the family. Maintenance money is helping,” she said.

The woman said she often had problems collecting her money and had to wait days before it was paid into her account. “This month it was bad for me as I ended up taking a loan to keep everything normal in my children’s lives. But I am worried that if this continues until next month, I will have a serious problem,” she said.

Mhaga said the glitch was caused by the system being upgraded.

He said the electronic payment environment demanded that the department put in place measures to ensure that the money destined for maintenance beneficiaries was protected.

“Recently, we identified areas that require improvement and introduced precautionary measures to protect the funds which we administer on behalf of our beneficiaries. As a result of these measures, the department experienced delays in its payment system during the month of July 2014.”

Contingency measures were put in place to “fast-track” outstanding payments. Melaine Pillay, senior manager at Child Welfare Services in Durban, said they hope the problem would get sorted soon as it affects many women and children. “We will try to help where we can,” said Pillay.

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