Cash stolen from grant payouts

2016-02-09 06:00
Sassa grant beneficiaries are invited a meeting soon about claims of illegal deductions from grants at the Mitchell’s Plain payout point.  PHOTO: Samantha Lee

Sassa grant beneficiaries are invited a meeting soon about claims of illegal deductions from grants at the Mitchell’s Plain payout point. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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Hundreds of beneficiaries have recently come forward with complaints about illegal deductions from their South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants.

The provincial department of social development has requested that Sassa urgently investigate reports of unauthorised deductions from grants at the Mitchell’s Plain payout point.

“We continue to call on the public to be vigilant, and for them to not give out their account PIN numbers and details,” the department says in a statement.

“In addition, Albert Fritz, provincial minister of social development, has written to the national minister, Bathabile Dlamini, requesting urgent action to stop the illegal deductions experienced by social grant recipients.”

Fritz has also reported the matter to Sassa.

Local ward councillors are inviting beneficiaries to attend a meeting at the Portland Indoor Centre on Monday 15 February at 19:00. The meeting is open to all beneficiaries living in Mitchell’s Plain and Strandfontein and will be an opportunity for beneficiaries to voice their concerns.

Ward councillor Solomon Philander says they aim to have Sassa representatives at the meeting to address claims of illegal deductions, which are often reflected as airtime or electricity vouchers.

Philander was recently at a meeting with some of the beneficiaries and says they all had similar complaints.

Some of the other complaints are about cards, waiting for reimbursements, getting paid out less than expected for months and Sassa officials who are not able to help.

In some cases there were insufficient staff to help the beneficiaries at the time of the visit.

Sassa spokesperson Kgomoco Diseko says they are concerned about service providers in the financial sector who debit beneficiary accounts without authorisation from the beneficiaries.

“In such cases we depend on beneficiaries to report cases to us so that they can be investigated. If the outcome of an investigation finds that a beneficiary didn’t authorise a particular transaction, Sassa goes out of its way to ensure that a refund is secured for the beneficiary. We do this using our dispute resolution mechanism procedure.

“Beneficiaries are advised to keep their cards in a safe place known only to them and to avoid disclosing their PINs to other people – even family members, because in some cases family members use details to procure services such as airtime,” says Diseko.

Diseko adds the problem is not only experienced in the Western Cape and call centres have been set up to help resolve problems.

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