Mystery grant deductions leave destitute mother with R20

2016-09-12 09:44


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mary-Anne Gotsana, GroundUp

Cape Town - Neliswa Maso gets a disability grant of R1500 a month. But this month she got R1080, after R200 was deducted for electricity and R220 for airtime.

"I don't even know what electricity or airtime they are referring to," she says.

Near her in the long social grants queue outside the Ikwezi Sport and Recreation Centre in Gugulethu is a woman who identified herself only as Kholiswa. She was supposed to get R1050 from three children’s grants, but only found R20 in her account.

When GroundUp visited the centre last week, a number of beneficiaries, some of whom who had been queuing outside the centre since 05:00, had similar stories.

One man said he thought the deductions were normal and were supposed to happen.

Thousands of grant beneficiaries go home each month with less money than they should because of unauthorised or illegal deductions from their social grants for loans, airtime, electricity and other services.

'Hands off our Grants'

 The "Hands off our Grants" campaign run by the Black Sash has exposed the extent of the problem.

The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), supported by the Black Sash, has taken on the Net1 group, which runs the payment system through its company Cash Paymaster Services, in a lengthy court battle which is still running.

Maso says she has been to the Sassa offices in Gugulethu to find out where her money went. “They said they did not know. Then I was given a printout of my Sassa slip, that's where I saw that the deductions were for airtime and electricity. I disputed this at the office and all they did was give me a fax number for another Sassa office, then told me to go and do an affidavit at the police station stating my complaint, then fax it through to the number they gave me. I doubt I will get any response.”

Maso has been receiving a social grant since 2013 and says deductions started this year. She says the only deduction she is aware of and is supposed to have on her grant is that of her Sassa funeral plan, which is R150.

For Kholiswa, the problem started in July when she was offered “a green card”.

“When I went to get my children's grant in July, I got offered a green card and I was told that it would work like my Sassa card. That is where the social grant would be paid and I could also get a loan using that card should I need one. Last month I only got R250 and this month I only got R20. I don't know where the money went.”

Minister for Social Development Bathabile Dlamini has explained that the “green card” or Easy Pay card “is a bank account issued by Net 1 associate Grindrod Bank.

(Mary-Anne Gontsana, GroundUp)

'Predatory practices'

In a statement in May, she warned that some beneficiaries had been told they had to open an Easy Pay account to get loans from Moneyline – another company in the Net1 group – only to find that their social grants were then paid into this account, without their authorisation, and deductions made for airtime and other services they had not bought.

She said grant beneficiaries had become victims of “predatory practices”.

“The beneficiaries should receive the full value of the grant unencumbered. It is very easy to take the money of social grant beneficiaries without proper consent and controls. However, it’s very difficult for them to get their money back.”

Dlamini said the department was “deeply disappointed” in Cash Paymaster Services, which seemed to be “profitably participating in these questionable activities through subsidiary companies”, under the umbrella of parent company Net 1.

Net1 has argued that the law allows the minister of social development to regulate deductions made directly from social grants, but not deductions from beneficiaries' bank accounts.

Elroy Paulus, National Advocacy Manager at the Black Sash, said the deduction issue had “gone viral” and as an organisation they were “extremely angry” about it. "This is an opportunity taken to extract money from the poorest of the poor and it is saddening.”

Paulus said the next hearing in the court battle would be on October 17 and 18.

Read more on:    sassa  |  cape town  |  poverty  |  service delivery

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


5 top leg exercises for men

Here’s our selection of the five best leg exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home.


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content this holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
How to open a beer bottle without an opener
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.