Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu has dismissed rumours that the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) will close all pay points in the country without providing an alternative for its beneficiaries.
The misinformation has caused serious concerns in deep rural areas.
“We have not started closing any pay points. If that happens, it will [be done] in consultation with the various stakeholders,” Shabangu said.
Addressing a media briefing in Tshwane on Monday, the Minister said traditional leaders were among the stakeholders that needed to be consulted.
Prior to the briefing, Shabangu addressed the National House of Traditional Leaders on developments surrounding the payment of social assistance.
“We have a policy that states that our beneficiaries must have access to their pay points within a five-kilometre radius so it would be impossible to close any pay points without recognising that as a critical point. Beneficiaries must be able to access their money very close [to their place of residence],” she said.
Issues that need to be considered before any pay points are closed is whether there is a Post Office and an ATM or a bank within a five-kilometre radius to the place of residence for beneficiaries.
SASSA will also visit provinces, local municipalities and districts to discuss any challenges that beneficiaries might experience as the entity transitions from CPS to the SA Post Office (SAPO).
“This month, we will be going out, making sure that we meet the Constitutional Court [requirements] and that there is no confusion amongst our people. We are working with traditional leaders to make sure that where there is confusion, they work with us to clarify matters,” Shabangu said.
According to the Minister, the new SASSA card is modernised as it can be used at banks.
New SAPO card
The new SAPO card replaces the old SASSA card and will be used for payment and withdrawal of social grants as from May 2018.
The SAPO card was distributed nationwide from 17 April to all beneficiaries of social grants receiving cash payments at pay points and merchants (e.g. ShopRite, Boxer Supermarket etc.)
It is envisaged that SASSA, in collaboration with SAPO, will distribute the new cards to an estimated nine million beneficiaries. Approximately 2.5 million of these beneficiaries receive their social grants at pay points around the country.
Shabangu reiterated that beneficiaries will get their monies at all times.
The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Zweli Mkhize, said about 30% of the South African population receive grants.
“In some provinces, such as the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, it’s about 42%. The challenge is that the bulk of those are in rural areas under traditional leadership and therefore there needs to be a seamless flow of information on how the grants are administered and the partnerships that need to develop,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za