No grant payments

2018-07-03 18:06
ABOVE: Fikile Nxele (38) was one of hundreds not to receive their Sassa grants. She is owed a child support grant. RIGHT: PSA members, among them Sassa staff, striking outside the Sassa head office on Bank Street.

ABOVE: Fikile Nxele (38) was one of hundreds not to receive their Sassa grants. She is owed a child support grant. RIGHT: PSA members, among them Sassa staff, striking outside the Sassa head office on Bank Street. (Nhlanhla Nkosi)

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A general system failure and striking workers conspired on Monday to deprive Sassa beneficiaries of their grants, leaving them unable to pay rent or utilities or buy food.

Sassa grant beneficiaries flooded local Sassa offices on Monday after they did not receive this month’s payment, which was scheduled for July 1.

The problem was compounded by a complete shutdown of Sassa offices due to a large scale strike by the Public Servants Association (PSA) union.

The strike put all grant applications and renewals on hold on Monday.

Hundreds of PSA members staged a march to the Sassa head office on Bank Street.

The union — which represents more than half the workers employed at the registration centres and pay points — has been engaged in prolonged and conflict-ridden wage negotiations with Sassa. The parties have been locked in negotiations since the union tabled its demands in February. The demand included a single-term agreement with a general sliding-scale salary increase of between 13% and 15%.

The union said last night that the Ministry of Social Development intended to interdict striking PSA members.

The Post Office will officially take over from Cash Paymaster Services in doling out grants from September. But the Post Office has already begun issuing Sassa cards, and is involved in the payment process.

Beleaguered grant recipients told The Witness they were unable to pay rent, utilities, and for food.

“I tried to get mine from the supermarket yesterday, but it wasn’t working,” pensioner Krish Singh said. “My entire grant goes for rent. How will I pay rent?”

Another said: “I came here to renew my mother’s Sassa card. Now this means she will be without money and will fall into arrears.”

Rooksana Ahmed, councillor for ward 31, said she had met with management of the Northdale Sassa office, but they were unable to intervene because of the PSA strike.

“They should have known that with the issuing of the new cards there would be teething problems. Sassa staff should have been working over the weekend to help with any problems.”

A joint statement by the Post Office and Sassa yesterday confirmed the problem was caused by a glitch in changing from the old payment system to the new one.

While the parties could not say when the problem would be sorted out, they assured grant recipients they would be paid in full.

“[We] are working tirelessly to find a solution to this problem and ensure that all beneficiary services are restored in the shortest possible time.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  sassa crisis

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