27 October 2017
Some South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiaries in Pietermaritzburg say they have “given up hope” in getting answers to unexplained deductions from their grants.
Several social grant beneficiaries contacted GroundUp recently to complain after their questions to SASSA about deductions being made on their grants went unanswered.
Ntombini Mnikathi, 41, from Snathing in Pietermaritzburg gets R1,140 a month in child grants for her three children. She told GroundUp that she first noticed she was getting less money in July.
“In July, I only came home with R70 of my R1,140.”
Mnikathi said that she had been paid different amounts every month since then. “[In October] I only got R502. I then started investigating from the pay point site in Snathing,” said Mnikathi. She said her family relied on the grants “to survive” because her children’s father earned very little as a gardener.
She said a teller at the SASSA office told her that there was no way for them to check who was deducting her money.
Assistant communications manager at SASSA, Mdumiseni Hadebe, said Mnikathi had a number of deductions from EasyPay Everywhere, Smartlife and Moneyline. These are all subsidiary companies of Net1, the parent company to Cash Paymaster Services which distributes grants for SASSA. Moneyline offers loans.
Hadebe confirmed that Mnikathi completed paying off her Moneyline loan in August. He said Mnikathi needed to go back to the moneylender to find out why the deductions are continuing. He stressed that SASSA “does not offer loans” to grant recipients. “The only deduction which SASSA may effect on a grant is when the beneficiary requests SASSA to pay the premium for a funeral insurance policy which must not be more than 10% of the grant amount,” said Hadebe.
Another beneficiary, Martha Dlamini, said her grant payout had varied for the past six months. Dlamini said in October she was paid R200 of R1,140 for the three child support grants she usually receives. “I spent the last R30 buying airtime at Game stores in town. I don’t have the energy to investigate any further because it’s not helping,” she said.
Dlamini said she just used R700 which was mysteriously deposited into her SASSA account last month “because money is also deducted from me anyway”.
Dlamini said she had no recollection of applying for a loan or buying electricity using her SASSA card. She chose not to provide her personal details for SASSA to investigate her case.
SASSA has urged beneficiaries who experience unaccounted for deductions to contact 033 846 3400 or 0800 60 10 11.
Net1 lodged a complaint against GroundUp with the Press Ombudsman about this article. We did in fact seek comment from Net1, but did not publish it because the response at that time did not, in our view, deal with any of the substantive facts in the article. Furthermore, it is SASSA, not Net1, that holds ultimate responsibility for social grant payments, and it was primarily SASSA’s response we were interested in.
We agreed with the Press Ombudsman and Net1 that it would be fair and reasonable for us to publish the following Net1 response. GroundUp stands by the article. To our knowledge it has no factual errors nor did we violate the press code. The Ombudsman has made no ruling on the matter. However, there may well be different perceptions and values between us, Net1 and the social grant recipients discussed in the article.
Net 1 UEPS Technologies, parent company of Cash Paymaster Services currently mandated to implement social grants payments on behalf of the South African Social Security Agency, notes with concern the recent article by Ground Up entitled: “I came home with R70 of my R1,140” – SASSA social grant beneficiary - SASSA beneficiaries battle to get recourse for unexplained deduction” published on 27 October 2017.
We would like to place on record that the information published by GroundUp is incorrect. The journalist, Nompendulo Ngubane did not verify her information or the facts before publishing. As a result, she has violated the Press code of ethics.
Our submissions to Ms Ngubane following our investigation of the beneficiary concerned was as follows (please note, that the personal information of the customer cannot be revealed publically and remains privileged):
When asked if she had any problem, the client said she had no complaints.
The client was happy with the assistance provided by the Call Centre Agent.
Furthermore, all interactions with customers on the Call Centre number are recorded. Secondly, there are various ways that a customer can inquire about their account, issues and inquiries. They can inquire at the point of payment of their SASSA grant, they can go to any of the Net1 offices, they can call the Call Centre which is toll free, and if they are still not satisfied, they can contact the Independent Adjudicator. Members of the public who wish to lodge a complaint can contact the Independent Adjudicators office on 086 099 4167 or via email at [email protected]
The article served to weaken our reputational standing among stakeholders and the public.