| SOUTH AFRICA

Social grants: victims of deductions protest in Durban

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Pensioners complain of unauthorised airtime deductions

Photo of two women protesters in the social grants campaign
Carol Dlamini (left) and Jeannette Makhanya took part in the “Hands off our Grants” protest yesterday. Photo: Nomfundo Xolo
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Social grant recipients protested yesterday outside Grindrod Mews in Durban against unlawful and unauthorised deductions from their grants.

Protesters carried posters saying “100% belongs to me”, “Don’t profit from my grant” and stood in solidarity with those pursuing justice in the four court cases being heard in the High Court in Pretoria.

The protest formed part of the Black Sash-led “Hands Off Our Grants” campaign. The Black Sash and others have asked the High Court for the right to intervene in four cases brought against the Department of Social Development and the S A Social Security Agency (Sassa) by Net1 and some of its subsidiaries. Net1 owns CPS, the company which pays out the grants.

In May the Department published regulations in a bid to stop unauthorised and illegal deductions from social grants, and instructed Grindrod Bank and CPS to stop deductions from Sassa accounts. But Net1 and some of its subsidiaries are challenging these regulations.

The Black Sash says Grindrod is prioritising creditors over the social grant beneficiaries who are their clients.

Jerome Bele, Paralegal Field Worker at Black Sash, said that they often had cases of social grant recipients who were robbed of what little money they have by unauthorised and unlawful deductions claimed to be for airtime, water and electricity bills, as well as funeral policies.

Carol Dlamini 73, said her husband had lodged a complaint about deductions for airtime for the past three years.

“Sassa hasn’t helped us, they keep telling us they have nothing to do with the deductions. It’s our money and the law stipulates that we’re supposed to get all of our pension money. They tell us about airtime when many of us don’t even have cell-phones. Hands off our pensions.”

Kachar Oscar, 71, who walks using crutches, said he had been sent from one door to the next since 2013, with R80 deducted each month.

“This money is not even enough as it is. We have greater responsibilities than our kids, because we take care of their kids. I can’t even walk properly but I have to fight to get this R80 back because it’s mine. We need to be taken seriously and we hope this ghost bank will one day finally stop exploiting the grant receivers.”

Legally, the only deduction which can be made before a social grant is paid to a beneficiary is 10% for funeral insurance. Other deductions can only be authorised once the money is in the beneficiary’s private bank account.

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TOPICS:  Social Grants

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