Sassa changes grant payout dates, will no longer pay on the 1st
From May onwards, social grants will be paid three days later than usual for pensioners and people with disabilities, and five days later for other grant recipients.
The government has decided to delay the payment of grants to avoid the month-end rush, which has resulted in a stampede in some cases, as grant recipients and other people who get paid at the end of the month descend on banks and shopping centres to withdraw cash.
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) said this was one of the lessons learnt from the last payment cycle during the national lockdown, which compelled the agency to review the payment dates going forward.
From May, disability and older persons' grants will be paid over two days from the fourth of each month, while all other grants will be paid from the sixth.
The grant payment for April was brought forward to March 30. The first two days - March 30 and 31 - were dedicated to those with disabilities and older people, to ensure compliance with the state of disaster requirements.
But "impatient" child support grant beneficiaries could not wait for the April 1 and descended upon payment channels as early as March 30, said Sassa chief executive Busisiwe Memela on Wednesday.
Memela said this posed all sorts of health challenges and it became difficult at some stores and ATMs to maintain social distancing.
"There was also a nasty scene in a Dobsonville shopping centre in Soweto, where a group of youngsters were captured on video pushing older people in order to access payment infrastructure first," she said.
In response to this, Sassa started consulting roleplayers such as the National Treasury, the SA Post Office, the Banking Association, retailers and the Consumer Goods Council. What came out of this was that people with disabilities and the elderly need to be protected from the month-end rush at payment outlets, and their grant payments need to be staggered so that they receive their grants before others do.
"To effect this, Sassa will make use of two payment files. The first one will cover the aged and the disabled, while the second payment file will cover all other grant types," said Memela.
Memela explained that some pensioners who use one card to also receive child support and foster child grants will be able to access all linked grants from the fourth of every month.
"Once the money is in the account, it will remain there until it is needed," she said, adding that there is no need to rush to withdraw cash on the day that Sassa deposits it into one's account.
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