Social grant beneficiaries are still having to travel long distances to collect their grants in cash, as the new payment system develops, says the Black Sash.
From October, cash payments are no longer being made by the previous contractor, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). Beneficiaries who wish to be paid in cash can visit ATMs, Post Offices and retail stores.
The Black Sash has been mapping the distances beneficiaries have to travel to get their cash, now that CPS cash points have been closed in urban and rural areas, GroundUp reported.
“We are doing the mapping in Khayelitsha, Villiersdorp, Ceres, Tulbagh, Hamlet, Prince Albert, Koue Bokkeveld, Delft and Lavender Hill,” said Amanda Ismail, Cape Town regional manager.
“The general feedback so far is that people have to travel long distances to the nearest working ATM, especially in Ceres. And when they get to the Post Office, sometimes there is no money. This means they will have to borrow money again to travel back the next day. This is totally unacceptable,” she said.
“We found challenges in all the areas, but rural people are hit the hardest. People living on farms are finding it harder and costly to travel into the town. We are not advocating for CPS to continue, but we want Sassa to reconsider the closure of the cash pay points.”
Ismail added that pensioners and people with disabilities were standing in long lines at retail stores, without chairs or toilets.
“Safety is also a concern for us because they are withdrawing at tills, which leaves them vulnerable to criminals. Usually at pay points there were officials to assist, but at ATMs the elderly out of desperation are asking random people to assist them,” said Ismail.
‘Our main concern is still crime’
Some retail outlets have had to make special arrangements to accommodate the higher number of people wanting to withdraw cash.
Andrew Mills, marketing director at Boxer, told GroundUp that to prepare for the influx of beneficiaries, Boxer usually ensured that all its till points were open. There were also ATMs in some stores.
Boxer had for years been enabling beneficiaries to withdraw their grants at all its 257 stores, he said.
“We mostly get withdrawals for child support and foster care grants. Some beneficiaries choose to keep the money on their cards and swipe when they buy at the store, while others prefer to withdraw the full grants,” said Mills.
He said cash deliveries were staggered.
“Our main concern is still crime. We need to bolster our security, not only for our clients but also for our staff.”
He added that some stores would open earlier in summer to accommodate beneficiaries who came early.
October 1 represented the first day that the grants system was completely free of CPS.
The South African Post Office has since taken over the bulk of the transactions, while many beneficiaries have opted to get paid straight into their commercial bank accounts.