“Crooks who only care about their pockets”

Social grant recipients angry about deductions

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Photo of people in hall
Recipients of social grants voiced their concerns about deductions from their grants at a meeting in Mitchells Plain today. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

Recipients of social grants from Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and surrounding areas voiced their concerns over deductions from their social grants at a meeting in Mitchells Plain organised by Right2Know on Friday.

“Our only means of survival is being taken away from us by crooks who only care about their pockets,” said 64-year-old Mogamad Boltman.

During the meeting, activists informed community members about the Constitutional Court ruling earlier this month. The Court ordered private contractor Cash Paymaster Systems to continue to pay the grants after 31 March. CPS’s contract with the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) was to have expired today, but SASSA has acknowledged its failure to take over the payment system as planned.

The Court also ruled that CPS and SASSA must ensure that the personal data of grant beneficiaries remained private and was used only for the payment of grants. The Black Sash had asked the Court to protect the beneficiaries’ data, after years of complaints from recipients about deductions from their social grants and widespread concerns that CPS was sharing the data with other companies in the Net1 group to which it belongs. Net1 CEO Serge Belamant has denied this.

Right2Know organiser, Vainola Makan, said it was the duty of civil society organisations to hold government to account.

“We need to monitor and see that they follow up on their promises. This is not a luxury for these beneficiaries, it is their livelihood,” said Makan.

Many social grant recipients at the meeting complained about unauthorised deductions from their grants. Some said they had gone to get new SASSA cards and changed their cellphone numbers, but this didn’t stop the deductions.

Boltman, a pensioner, said he had been struggling for three years to stop deductions from his old age pension. He had been getting less than R1,000 from the R1,500 grant, he said.

“I have been everywhere to ask why I have been getting R800 and R700 instead of my full money, but everyone is just passing me around. I watch the news, and the president says this is not a crisis because he does not feel the pain. He does not know how much this money means to us. This is how I survive,” said Boltman.

Boltman and his wife, who is also a grant recipient, look after their four grandchildren, two of whom also get grants.

“When I called the call centre they gave me five numbers that they said have been buying airtime and electricity on my phone. But when I call, these do not exist,” he said.

Eastridge resident Jasmina Jappie said she had heard about the Constitutional Court judgment and wanted to know if people would be paid back the money that had been deducted from their grants without permission.

“They owe me R2,360 worth of deductions that I don’t know about.” She said she was behind with her municipal bills because of these deductions.

“Last month I had to pay R600 just so we can have water at home,” said Jappie.

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TOPICS:  Social Grants

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