Johannesburg – Close to 150,000 social grant beneficiaries were unable to access their January payments, according to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said most of the failed withdrawals at ATMs resulted from a mismatch in account details.
He explained that issues arise when the ID number, name, or other details do not correspond between what is in the Sassa system versus the bank account. This matter was flagged by the Auditor General, prompting Sassa to investigate and halt payments in cases of discrepancies to avoid potential fraud or abuse.
The spokesperson noted particular problems with beneficiaries opening accounts at one unnamed bank that appears to have been targeted by scammers. He appealed to grant recipients to promptly inform Sassa whenever they change any personal details like their address, name, cell phone number or switch bank accounts.
Letsatsi stated that Sassa communicates regularly with beneficiaries regarding the need to verify their information. He reported that provinces have been instructed to contact all affected individuals from this recent incident and help them confirm their identities so grants can be restored.
Some NGOs have raised concerns about beneficiaries whose accounts were suspended despite no changes made. The spokesperson acknowledged these complaints but emphasized the priority of combatting criminals seeking to take advantage. He committed to addressing legitimate issues through cooperation between Sassa, advocates and beneficiaries themselves.
While unsure if Sassa has suffered direct financial losses presently, Letsatsi pointed to heartbreaking stories of the elderly struggling at ATMs. He concluded, “This is intended on making sure that we clamp this thing of people who try to steal the information of beneficiaries, steal their money.”