Latest News about SASSA Grant Today 12th December – In a recent announcement, the Postbank and South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) revealed that grant recipients will no longer have the option to withdraw cash from Post Offices. This decision comes as part of a broader strategy to address security concerns, capacity challenges, and reduce cash-in-transit heists. While this change aims to improve efficiency and safety, it has raised concerns among some beneficiaries, particularly those in rural areas. In this article, we will explore the implications of this decision and alternative methods for Sassa grant beneficiaries to access their funds.
The Phasing Out of Cash Payment Points
Starting from January next year, Sassa and the Postbank plan to phase out all physical cash payment points (CPPs), including cash withdrawal services at Post Offices. The transition is expected to be completed by the end of March 2024. This move is part of an ongoing effort to enhance the payment process and ensure the secure and reliable distribution of grants to beneficiaries.
“The aim is to ensure continuity in the payments for everyone and that every person is paid their grant in the most efficient, safe, secure, reliable, and convenient manner,” stated a joint statement by Sassa and the Postbank.
While cash withdrawal services will no longer be available at Post Office branches, non-cash services such as card reinsurances, PIN resets, and statement printing will continue to be provided. This means that beneficiaries will still be able to access certain services at Post Offices, but cash payments will no longer be an option.
Where Can Sassa Grant Beneficiaries Get Cash?
Despite the discontinuation of cash withdrawals at Post Offices, Sassa grant beneficiaries will still have alternative options to access their funds. They can withdraw cash at any ATM or choose from a range of retailers that offer Sassa grant payments. Some of these retailers include Boxer, Pick N Pay, Spar, Shoprite, Usave, and Checkers.
Sassa gold card social grant recipients who previously used CPPs and Post Office branches can now utilize their cards at any retailer that accepts bank cards. This includes making purchases at retailers with a point of sale or withdrawing funds from retailers that provide cash-back functionality.
According to reports, approximately 98% of grant beneficiaries already use these alternative methods to collect their grants. This suggests that the discontinuation of cash payments at Post Offices will have minimal impact on the majority of social grant beneficiaries.
Concerns and Criticisms
While the transition away from cash payments at Post Offices may seem straightforward, it has raised concerns among certain groups, particularly pensioners and disabled individuals in rural areas. Civil society organization Black Sash has criticized the decision, arguing that it was made without proper research and consideration of its impact.
Some grant recipients have expressed dissatisfaction with the decision, citing concerns about increased transport costs, delays at alternative payment sites, and withdrawal fees at ATMs and retailers. Interviews with beneficiaries have indicated that more than 60% of recipients require assistance at pay points, including ATMs, further highlighting the potential challenges associated with the transition.
Challenges Faced by the Post Office
The decision to discontinue cash payments at Post Offices comes at a time when the Post Office is facing financial struggles. Over the past three years, the Post Office has incurred a loss of R6 billion, with an additional R2.2 billion loss in the 2022/2023 financial year. As part of its business rescue plan, the Post Office plans to close 420 loss-making branches and retrench 6,000 employees. Additionally, there is the possibility of a R3.8 billion government bailout.
The Post Office’s business rescue plan also includes phasing out revenue streams that have failed to produce sufficient income. One of these revenue services is Over Counter (OTC) payment services, which encompass SASSA and cash pay points (CPP) payments. If this plan is adopted, the Post Office will no longer handle social grant payments.
Validity of Sassa Gold Cards
There have been concerns regarding the validity of Sassa gold cards. However, it has been clarified that these cards will remain fully valid and operational in 2024. Grant beneficiaries can continue to use their gold cards to access their funds, even if the card is expired. There is no need for card renewal.
The decision to stop giving cash to Sassa grant beneficiaries at Post Offices is part of an effort to improve security, efficiency, and reliability in the payment process. While this change may pose challenges for some beneficiaries, alternative methods such as ATM withdrawals and payments at retailers offer accessible options. It is important for Sassa and the Postbank to address concerns raised by beneficiaries and ensure a smooth transition to the new payment system. By doing so, they can provide a secure and convenient experience for all grant recipients.