Unsuspecting SASSA beneficiary duped into getting green EasyPay card
Beneficiary claims he was told green card operates the same way as the official SASSA card.
Monwabisi Mjuleni from KwaNobuhle township in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape was visiting a local South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) when he was duped into getting a green EasyPay Everywhere account.
Net1, which is the parent company of EasyPay Everywhere, has denied the allegation, calling it “baseless” and “without merit”.
An EasyPay account is usually opened for grant beneficiaries who apply for a loan at Net1 financial services. Net1 is also the parent company of CPS, which currently is responsible for paying social grants at cash pay points until September.
Mjuleni receives a monthly disability grant of R1,690. He says he visited the SASSA office in the city centre on 5 June after losing his card. Mjuleni says a “decent man” at the SASSA office approached him and introduced himself as a volunteer assisting beneficiaries.
“He advised me to go to the nearest branch that worked with SASSA, so I can have my new card issued there,” says Mjuleni. “The place is two minutes away from SASSA offices.”
“The man said the card which was green in colour, was no different to SASSA cards and that the cards operated the same way. When I went to the building he then took me to the cash loans premises,” Mjuleni says.
Mjuleni says people waiting in line had also indicated that they too had been sent to the Net1 office to collect new cards. He was then given a green EasyPay Everywhere card.
Mjuleni says he was told his grant would be available on the new card in 72 hours, but it was not. “I went back to SASSA. Ever since then, I have been sent from pillar to post. I have been sleeping with an empty stomach,” he says.
SASSA Eastern Cape spokesperson Luzuko Qina emphasised that there was only one new SASSA card which was issued either by SASSA or the Post Office. “SASSA does not have a green card and [does not offer] any loans,” he said.
Qina said Mjuleni should return to SASSA or the Post Office where his card would be swapped for the new yellow SASSA card. The beneficiary needs to bring along their ID and complete a banking request form for the grant to be paid into the new card or to a commercial bank account of their choice.
Responding to questions from GroundUp, Net1 said it contacted Mjuleni through the company’s call centre. Net1 said Mjuleni told them that he had been referred to the Net1 office “due to the overcrowding at the SASSA office”.
“There was no coercion by any Net1 employee or any agent representing Net1. An account was opened in the name of the beneficiary and he was issued with an EasyPay Everywhere card. He attempted to withdraw the grant from the EPE account, but it was not yet available,” the company said.
Net1 said that Mjuleni informed them that his complaint was not about getting a green card or being coerced by a Net1 employee. “During the call [to Mjuleni] the Net1 Call Centre offered to close the EPE account, the client declined. In light of this investigation there is no reason for any action to be taken against any Net1 employee,” Net1 said.
It comes as the Panel of Experts monitoring SASSAs social grants payment plan on Monday recommended that the agency consider legal action against Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). This after the Panel informed the Constitutional Court that CPS agents were interfering with the process of swapping the old SASSA cards for the new Postbank cards. Net1 has refuted these allegations.
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During May an ATM swallowed my old SASSA card. I applied at the SASSA branch in Port Alfred for a new card. The Post Office official issuing the card told me that the money left on the card from May would be available within three days.
However, when I could still not draw any money after waiting the 72 hours, I returned to SASSA and was then told by a very helpful assistant that the money would only be paid into my bank account by the first of July and that there was unfortunately nothing she could do to have my 1st of June pension and the May balance paid any earlier.
In desperation, I phoned the SASSA help number and asked if something could be done from head office or the regional office. I was told confidentially to ask our SASSA branch where the nearest Net1 branch is and to go there to have a green card issued to me to use to withdraw my money. I looked Net1 up on the Internet as I could get the SASSA branch on the phone.
I spoke to somebody who referred me to their Grahamstown office that is run by Cassim. I phoned Cassim and he said that he could see that there was money left on my CPS account. He then explained that I could come to his offices and would be issued a green card and would be able to draw my money immediately at any bank's ATM just like the old SASSA card until the new card became functional.
No money has become available. After reading about Mr Mjuleni's case, I now realise that the money would probably have been treated as a loan. Thinking back, there were quite a few new SASSA cards lying on the desk of the lady who loaded my details onto her terminal.
I am also on a disability pension like Mr Mjuleni and have been in dire straits for the last month and a half. My family lives 80kms from me and has had to drive up and down to help me with this and then another 40kms to Grahamstown. By the time I receive the money most of it will have been spent on fuel and I will not be able to pay back the money I have had to borrow from friends and family.