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Social grant beneficiaries who use Postbank or SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) gold cards will not be able to withdraw their funds from ATMs for December, the agency said on Tuesday.
Postbank and gold cardholders will only be able to access their funds from retail merchants.
In a statement, Sassa said that the shutdown was due to the discovery of a criminal network that had targeted Postbank ATMs to access Postbank accounts.
The statement reads:
"In recent months, Postbank has been experiencing a number of technical glitches that disrupted the smooth withdrawal of Social Assistance benefits. Following extensive investigations, we have uncovered a series of network attacks by criminal elements determined to commit systematic ATM card fraud-related crimes on Postbank payments using sophisticated modus operandi, which require further investigation.
"As a mitigating exercise, and in consultation with our partners following the resurgence of these criminal activities at the inception of the December payments, it has become necessary that Postbank suspends Sassa grants withdrawal at ATMs for those clients using the Postbank-issued Sassa gold cards."
Sassa said retailers include Shoprite, Checkers, Usave, Pick 'n Pay and Boxer. Gold card holders can also use their cards to make purchases anywhere that accepts bank card transactions, as it operates the same as any other bank card.
Sassa also assured beneficiaries that the gold cards remained valid and had not expired.
"We assure our customers that a dedicated team of professionals, assisted by experienced external experts as well as law enforcement agencies, has been assigned to deal with this challenge, and great progress has been made to close down all avenues used by these criminals," said Sassa.
Sassa said that the Postbank will notify beneficiaries when ATM transactions are available again.