Sassa makes 'concerted effort' to transfer beneficiaries but still faces challenges

2018-10-19 18:30
Sassa head office. (Alet Pretorius, Gallo Images)

Sassa head office. (Alet Pretorius, Gallo Images)

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The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has made a "concerted effort" to transfer grant recipients from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to the Postbank but still faces problems that undermine payments.

This is according to a report by an independent panel, headed by the office of the Auditor-General, on the social grants matter.

The report, which was filed this week to the Constitutional Court, reveals that a total of 6.7 million beneficiaries were approved for payment via the Postbank in October 2018.

"Nevertheless, significant logistical and operational problems still undermine the stability of the payment to beneficiaries at South African Post Office (SAPO) branches and at cash pay points," it said.

The panel was set up by order of the Constitutional Court in 2017, following the initial extension of the CPS contract.

From April, Sassa had until September 30 to transfer more than 3 million beneficiaries still dependent on the old CPS infrastructure to SAPO's new system.

It also needed to swap out their old Sassa-Grindrod cards for new Sassa-SAPO cards.

According to the panel, Sassa and SAPO have not taken the necessary steps to provide beneficiaries with predictability regarding the payment dates at cash pay points.

Late arrival of cash

"SAPO has not yet swapped cards of the approximately 100 000 beneficiaries who were forced to open SAPO Postbank bank accounts earlier in 2018 when the new Sassa-branded SAPO cards were not yet available.

"Sassa has not reported to the court on its progress in obtaining written mandates from EasyPay Everywhere account holders despite undertaking to start this process from September 2018," according to the panel.

The panel stated that the social security agency had identified the late arrival of cash or insufficient cash to meet the demand at SAPO branches as a top challenge in September.

The problem also persisted in the first week of the October payment cycle, it said.

"The late arrival of cash at SAPO branches is inconvenient for beneficiaries who often arrive early in the morning and stand in long queues.

"The late arrival of cash or running out of cash may also serve as disincentives for beneficiaries with special needs."

Investigation recommended

The panel has also expressed concern about security issues in the first week of the October payment cycle.

It said at least 30 security incidents were recorded, including burglaries at SAPO branches, armed robberies, cash-in-transit heists and attacks/bombings of ATMs.

Sassa said the matter was receiving urgent attention from relevant government agencies, the panel reported.

The panel said the minister of social development, National Treasury and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation should urgently probe the matter and report to Parliament on the efficacy of the Sassa Act.

The panel has made numerous recommendations which include that SAPO should take the necessary steps to address the logistics around the delivery of cash which result in the late arrival of money at cash pay points and at SAPO branches.

The panel also said the agency should urgently provide the court with a copy of a signed Sassa-SAPO master services agreement to protect any commercial or security information.  

Read more on:    sassa  |  sapo

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