SASSA investigates grant beneficiaries forced to spend money

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Itsoseng - The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in the North West region has warned that it will take strict action against shop owners found to be pilfering the grant benefits of pensioners and other grant beneficiaries.

The agency recently received a number of complaints from grant beneficiaries that their money was being taken away from them at pension pay points and that they were being forced to spend their money in the shops.

Senior Manager for Marketing and Communications of the North West SASSA, Smanga Selemeni said: "We are aware of what is happening at pension pay points and we are taking steps."

He explained that shop owners were forcing pensioners and other beneficiaries to spend up to R200 inside their shops simply because the machine is inside the shop.

"We are going to make sure that those machines are removed from their shops and that the shops are closed. We want to warn them that our agency will visit them soon and make sure that they refrain from taking advantage of older people," said Mr Selemeni.

Elizabeth Tume, 59, from Itsoseng collects her disability grant from a local shop. She told BuaNews that there was one shop owner in Itsoseng who forced her to spend an amount of R200 at his shop after getting her grant from the machine on the premises.

"This didn't happen to me alone. Many of those who are getting grants in my community are also having to spend money at the shop," said Ms Tume, who added that R200 was a lot of money and that it could have been spent on caring for her children instead.

Responding to the complaint, Mr Selemeni emphasised that SASSA would be investigating the matter.

"It is unfortunate that shop owners are doing this. No one is allowed to force our people to spend their money in this shops even these shop owners," he said

Ms Selemeni said SASSA would conduct the Talk To Us Campaign over the next two weeks in all four districts of the province to create a platform for grant beneficiaries to interact with its senior managers.

The public will be able to give their inputs on how SASSA can improve its services while explaining the challenges they encounter when receiving their grants.