Sassa grants: Answers on payments

2016-02-23 16:06
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Photo for illustration. (Samantha Lee)

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Thousands of residents across the Western Cape have experienced deductions from their Sassa grants, and last week Mitchell’s Plain residents demanded to know why.
Local ward councillor Solomon Philander, who called the meeting between beneficiaries and officials, said: “This is not political. Tonight we want answers and everyone must leave knowing the way forward.”

About 80 residents from Mitchell’s Plain were present on Monday last week.

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 at a time 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.

Henry Degra, general manager of Sassa grants administration, said they were aware of the deductions.
“We have heard what the councillor has said and taken note of your concerns. This matter is not only a problem in the Western Cape but in the whole country,” he said.
Degra explains the move to the Sassa cards opened the system up to fraud and crime.
“I’m sure everyone liked the Allpay system – we had problems but not these problems. There were long lines but everyone got all of their money. Of course there were still robberies,” he explained.
“With the new cards we gave 10m people access to the banking sector, but with that we opened it up to fraud.”

In response to alleged fraudulent electricity and airtime deductions in most cases, Degra said there were two ways to look at it.

“There are two groups, those who have authorised deductions and those who have not. According to the law, the only deduction allowed on a Sassa card is a funeral plan,” he said.
Degra continued that many people give their PIN numbers and cards to loan sharks and then reported cases of stolen cards to evade them.
Another explanation was that residents could have left their cards and ID documents in the hands of others who could have bought the airtime and used it without the beneficiaries’ consent.

He added that residents who have experienced deductions should still follow steps to have their money refunded.

“We need residents to report it to us. We pay the money over to a company and they pay it to the beneficiaries. Sassa is not aware of the deductions and if we look on the system we cannot see deductions,” he said.
Firstly, residents should give a statement that they have had unauthorised deductions. This must be accompanied by a slip that shows the deductions.
The beneficiary will then be required to fill in a dispute resolution mechanism form that will be submitted to Sassa head office.
Refunds should take no longer than one month, Degra says.

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