Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Mondli Gungubele on Thursday assured South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) social grant beneficiaries and the nation that changes to the Postbank board will not impact on any of Postbank’s operations or its capacity.
Last week Postbank’s board of directors was axed after a forensic investigation found that Postbank maintained contracts with suppliers unlawfully.
Further, a Postbank system glitch earlier this month left at least 600 000 social grant beneficiaries with none or only part of their pension.
Gungubele provided an update on the progress made on payments to Postbank Gold Card Sassa beneficiaries, where he said the root cause of Postbank's system challenges that affected this month’s social grants payments to some beneficiaries related to Postbank’s migration to a new system.
He said Postbank had provided the Communications and Social Development departments with assurance that all Sassa grant beneficiaries whose accounts were adversely affected by the system challenges had now been corrected.
“These funds are readily available in the accounts of beneficiaries, and if not withdrawn, can be accessed through bank ATMs, retailers, and Post Office branches,” he said.
He said the two departments and their agencies understand the “regrettable strain” to beneficiaries owing to the grant payments challenges that were experienced this month.
“We wish to reiterate our sincerest apologies to all social grants beneficiaries who have encountered difficulties accessing their social grants this month,” he said.
He highlighted that the departments were actively taking measures to prevent future challenges in the banking ecosystem, and in particular, for social grant account holders.
“Our commitment to the welfare and well-being of our social grant beneficiaries remains unwavering. Noting that we will start with the October payment cycle in less than two weeks, we have started preparing to ensure that we do not encounter challenges that were experienced by our clients this month,” he added.
He said the departments and agencies recognised the “invaluable role” that social grants play in the lives of many South Africans, providing essential support and a lifeline to countless families.
“Our commitment is resolute, and we will continue to work diligently to overcome challenges and enhance the reliability and efficiency of our banking system,” he promised.
He urged social grant beneficiaries to ignore the “false information” that the September payments challenges were a result of an expired Sassa card. He noted that the Reserve Bank had granted an extension for the Sassa cards to continue to work until December 2023.
Gungubele said Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and him had seen the need for Postbank and Sassa to embark on more joint communications activities on the ground, targeting outlying areas, including via community radio stations.
Both entities, together with the communications and social development departments, would be engaging on several outreach programmes to ensure that the people served were better equipped with credible information, he said.