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SASSA beneficiaries coerced into “green” cards to get loans

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Grant recipients told by SMS to move to EasyPay Everywhere card

Photo of a woman with a plastic card and ID
Zoleka Mapikana waiting outside the Net1 Moneyline office at Philippi Plaza. Photo: Barbara Maregele
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Social grant beneficiary Zoleka Mapikana says deductions are still being made from her social grant account for a loan she has repaid.

In February last year she was told to switch her SASSA (South Africa Social Security Agency) card to an EasyPay Everywhere card (known as a “green card”). This was after she took out a loan of R250 from Moneyline in Queenstown.

She says she repaid the loan in August last year, but deductions continue to be taken from her card.

“I was meant to pay R50 for six months for the loan,” Mapikana told GroundUp on 23 February, after having camped outside the Moneyline offices at Philippi Plaza in a bid to stop the deductions.

SASSA officials have told her the agency can’t help.

Mapikana depends on the monthly R350 child support grant to buy food and electricity.

Moneyline and Cash Paymaster Services (which distributes the social grants to around 17 million beneficiaries each month) are both subsidiaries of listed company NET1. Social grant beneficiaries are told to take out a green card if they want a loan from Moneyline.

A teller at the Philippi Moneyline office said that when applying for a Moneyline loan, grant beneficiaries need only bring their ID, SASSA card and a cellphone.

Mapikana said: “I’ve been getting as little as R10 and R30 every month. For February, I only got R28. What can I do with that? I came here to find out what’s going on. They told me I have to wait for a letter from Queenstown to say that I did pay.”

According to NET1, over 1.5 million grant beneficiaries have migrated to the green EasyPay Everywhere cards since June 2015.

Pensioner Ellias Zwelibanzi Mafuxwana from Nyanga was among several people seated inside Moneyline’s Philippi offices, waiting to take out a loan. He said he “can’t cope” with only the R1,500 monthly pension.

Mafuxwana got his green card after taking out a loan from Moneyline in Nyanga a year ago. He also complained about deductions he couldn’t understand. “I used to go to SASSA to get my money, but since I have the green card, I have to come here [Moneyline] for my money. SASSA told me they have nothing to do with this card,” he says.

In recent weeks, many grant beneficiaries have been inundated with SMSs telling them to change over to the EasyPay Everywhere card by January 2017. SASSA has since urged people not to use this card as they will “not be under the regulatory protection” of the state.

SASSA provincial spokesperson Shivani Wahab says the only protected card for social grant beneficiaries is the SASSA card.

“SASSA never communicates with its beneficiaries via SMS and beneficiaries are warned not to respond to any SMS in this regard. This is a scam.

“Beneficiaries could be stripped of their cash or have deductions which they never authorised [taken] off their social grants,” she says.

SASSA has not responded to questions on what will happen to beneficiaries with green cards once the contract with CPS ends in March.

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TOPICS:  Sassa Social Grants