Minister of social development Susan Shabangu has dismissed rumours that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will be closing all paypoints in the country without providing beneficiaries with an alternative means to receive their social grants.
During a media briefing on Monday, Shabangu said, “We have not started closing any pay points. If that happens, it will [be done] in consultation with the various stakeholders.”
The speculation had left many beneficiaries in rural areas concerned because the pay points are usually where they can get their social grants without having to travel far distances to go to ATMs, the Post Office or a bank.
“We have a policy that states that our beneficiaries must have access to their pay points within a five-kilometre radius so it would be impossible to close any pay points without recognising that as a critical point. Beneficiaries must be able to access their money very close [to their place of residence],” Shabangu said.
Shabangu also said traditional leaders are part of the stakeholders that will be consulted before any changes to the payment of social grant are implemented.
Sassa will also be visiting municipalities in every province to ensure that any challenges that beneficiaries might experience as the agency transitions from grants disburser Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to the South African Post Office (Sapo) are addressed.
Shabangu said: “This month, we will be going out, making sure that we meet the Constitutional Court [requirements] and that there is no confusion amongst our people. We are working with traditional leaders to make sure that where there is confusion, they work with us to clarify matters.”
Sapo is set to take over the administration of grant cash payments when CPS’s contract ends in September meaning that Sassa has four months to phase out the illegal contract with CPS which was extended in March by the Constitutional court.
New social grant card
As part of the move from CPS to the post office, a new Sapo card was introduced to beneficiaries and started being distributed throughout the country starting in mid April at all pay points and merchants such as Shoprite and Boxer supermarkets.
This new card will be used for payment and withdrawal from May 2018 and according to Shabangu, it can be used at banks as well.
Sassa hopes to eventually distribute these cards to an estimated nine million beneficiaries but at present, only 2.5-million people receive their grants at pay points nationwide.