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Sassa beneficiaries turned away at paypoints again

‘I’m frustrated and don’t know what to do’

Pensioners flocked to Sassa offices in Kliptown, Soweto, last week to receive their grants only to leave empty handed.
Pensioners flocked to Sassa offices in Kliptown, Soweto, last week to receive their grants only to leave empty handed.
Image: Antonio Muchave

With the youngest of her three children on her back, Ntombi Tshabalala waited for two hours in a queue at the Marshalltown Post Office in Johannesburg, only to be told that there was no money to give to her as they had run out of funds.

Tshabalala is one of hundreds of social grants beneficiaries who have still not been able to withdraw their money since a technical glitch at Postbank last week.

Despite Postbank last week saying beneficiaries, some coming as far as Orange Farm, south of Joburg, and Vanderbijlpark in the Vaal, would get their money as their accounts had been credited, many flocked and queued outside the Marshalltown Post Office to collect their grants but were turned away.

There is growing frustration as beneficiaries struggle to feed their families and have borrowed money to get to various pay points only to return home empty handed as their South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) cards.

“I’m frustrated and don’t know what to do. I only managed to spend R100 of the R1,500 I receive for my children. I withdrew only R100 at a grocery store last week because I needed to buy something. When I went back later, I was told that the money in my account has been reversed.

"The lady at the till said that the Sassa system is down and I should check the following day. At the till here, [Marshaltown Post Office] they said they could see that there is a balance of R1,400 but they have no money,” she said.

The Post Office was packed with desperate beneficiaries, including pensioners hoping to get their grants.

Postbank CEO Nikki Mbengashe said they would hold a media briefing soon.

Lenah Sefawalyane, 71, from Naledi, Soweto, said she had been to various places but had not been able to get the money.

“I get my money at the Post Office in Orlando but when I got there, I saw a board that says they have not been working since August 17. I had no money, so I had to walk from Orlando to Diepkloof and when I got there, they said they don’t have electricity.

“On Friday when I went to the Post Office in Meadowlands, they said we must come back on Monday or Tuesday. I desperately need this money. I have been asking money from friends and family,” she said.

Former trauma nurse at Milpark Hospital Christiana van Zyl, 72, almost fainted while waiting in the queue because she was thirsty.

She was helped by other pensioners who rushed to get her water.

Van Zyl of Newlands spoke to Sowetan's sister publication TimesLIVE inside the post office in the dark while officials kept telling the elderly there was no money but they refused to go home.

“I stood for a very long time outside and I started to feel a headache and lower back ache. I sat down because I was starting to breathe faster. I have an underactive thyroid and I’m myeloblastic anaemic.

“I usually buy my medication from Clicks with my Sassa card but I could not get the money on Tuesday,” she said.

Van Zyl said she last took her medication a week ago and was feeling weaker by the day. She wanted to wait until 4pm for the power to come back to be assisted but was told “there is no money”.

Makhulo Rajuili, 73, from Orange Farm was short of R4 to get a bus home.

Rajuili described post office officials as people who do not care.

“I arrived here at 9am but until now [3pm] I did not receive help. My daughter-in-law works here and she was able to help with money at home. I ate one banana since the morning. I am hungry.

“The government is failing us and no one is explaining to us what is happening. We have to come here every day but we do not get help. There is nothing to eat at home.”

Fikile Yembe, 65, from Vanderbijlpark said she was told by her local Sapo branch to visit the Marshalltown branch because they could not help her after her card was declined due to insufficient funds last week. Yembe said when she went to withdraw her grant there was only R96 in her account instead of R2,090.

Myha Sybrayal said her son had to pay her bills and policies.

Pat Zungu said he had spent more on transport to try get his grant.

“I managed to get few items because I attended a funeral on Saturday at Atteridgeville and the family helped me to get some few items,” he said, adding that he had defaulted on policy payments.

“The past few days have been hard and I have not paid rent.

– Additional Reporting Herman Moloi

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