State social grants agency – the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) says a technical glitch at Postbank is responsible for leaving thousands of destitute dependents of state social grants stranded yesterday. Thousands of pensioners and the recipients of the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grants  across land were unable to withdraw their grants.

Written by Gontse “GeE” Hlophe

Yesterday anticipation turned into sorrow for thousands of old age pension and the Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD) recipients who could not withdraw their funds due to a technical malfunction at Postbank.

This is according to a statement issued by the state agency responsible for social grants payments – the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa). The agency said payments made through Post Office branches were not affected.

“Postbank is experiencing technical challenges affecting Sassa social grant payments”. These intermittent technical issues are making it difficult for some beneficiaries to withdraw their funds from ATM’s and retailers. These technical issues are affecting all grant recipients, including those receiving the SRD R350 grant,” a notice from Sassa on the social media reads.

In a statement the Postbank conceded it was blameable.

“The glitch is an IT issue on our end. Postbank is in the process of migrating into a new and more compliant banking system. We were moving from the Post Office environment which has been found not to be on par with the best industry practice,” Postbank said in statement.

The bank also pointed out that the problem has since been resolved, “social grant payment transactions via Sassa Gold cards at postal branches are processed normally and are not affected by any  issues.”

The Postbank went on to assure apologise to its clients, “Postbank fully understands the inconveniences and challenges this technical issue poses to the valued customers.” 

Themba Hlatshwayo (66) told The Telegram that he is dependent on the social grant to make ends meet as he’s a pensioner who stays alone at home. “I only survive by the government’s money so this kind of challenges really damage me both mentally and physically. So since we haven’t received our money, it’s difficult and risky for me to take my medications.”

The initial Sassa grant payment dates for September were, Older Persons Grant – Tuesday, 5 September, Disability Grant – Wednesday, 6 September and Children’s Grant and all other grants – Thursday, 7 September 2023.

“It is very tough for individuals like us who primarily depend of the social grant. I stay with my grandparents and they both haven’t received their money. We know it is not their fault and such situations comes when you least expected but they should have informed the beneficiaries about this unlike waiting in queues for nothing,” said Thulani Goxa (25).

Last week, a similar problem hit  the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)  when disbursing September scholarships to the more than one million students  it  serves. This problem would have been resolved quickly and  the delays in payment  would have been only one day.

The Black Sash says many recipients were forced to stay overnight at payment  locations because they could not afford to travel twice. “SASSA has a duty to keep beneficiaries properly informed as well as aiding beneficiaries who will now sleep on pavements because they cannot afford to go home.

We are witnessing beneficiaries moving from one ATM to another, desperately trying to access their grants.” Black Sash said the Minister of Social Development and SASSA must urgently deal with technical challenges with SAPO and Postbank.

In outlining their grievances, some X Twitter user said, “My friend just called to ask if I could give transport money to her grandmother as her Sassa old pensioner’s grant didn’t pay out, as I work near there. When I got there my heart broke as I saw other pensioners in tears as they were depending on it. That department has no shame,” – @Rapsta102 said.

Grace Madubola (68) asserts this is a disaster that she didn’t anticipate that it would happen. “I was surprised by what I saw when I got to the cashier to pay for my grocery. I was very embarrassed when I learned that my Sassa card declined, so I had to take back of the items that I bought and I only stay with my two children who are currently unemployed. I really don’t know what to do or when will this situation be solved.”

Few Taxi drivers outside Protea Gardens mall said that a lot of elderly women were forced to walk as they came with the hope that they would get their money but due to unforeseen occurrences, they couldn’t afford the taxi fare.

“I don’t know what to do. This dilemma is inconveniencing everybody who rely on social grants. I had to go to the loan shark because we don’t have food at home, so once the system continues to operate normal, I’ll have to pay back the R500 that I borrowed,” said Glenda Morara (67).

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