Software glitch causes social grant panic

Some beneficiaries were not paid, but the problem was resolved by Tuesday afternoon

Photo of social grants queue

Some social grant recipients found that they had not been paid on Monday, the beginning of the month. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

By Barbara Maregele

2 April 2019

A software glitch caused confusion and panic among some social grant beneficiaries. They were expecting to withdraw their much-needed monthly grants on Monday, but found that they had not been paid. To make matters worse, while inserting their cards into ATM machines to try to resolve the problem, many recipients lost their cards.

GroundUp met seven recipients affected by the glitch but It is understood that the glitch affected many more recipients across the country.

But by noon on Tuesday, the problem had been resolved. The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Post Office confirmed that all beneficiary accounts were credited.

Earlier on Tuesday, we spoke to a group of beneficiaries in Delft who said they were sent from pillar to post in a bid to find answers on Monday. Several recipients, who asked not to be named, said that their cards were swallowed by ATMs in the area. They were told to reapply for cards at the Post Office later in the week.

“We need that money. School’s started today and I need to buy my children food,” said a 32-year-old mother of two.

Pamela Salalah asked: “Why haven’t grants been paid into our bank accounts? Beneficiaries have been unable to withdraw from banks, Pick and Pay or Post Offices. This is such a mess.”

SASSA Western Cape spokesperson, Shivani Wahab, said the error was due to a national Saswitch software malfunction “which was out of our control”.

In response to beneficiaries whose cards were retained by ATMs, she advised that they visit the nearest SASSA facility with their identity document and a new card will be issued immediately.

In a statement, Abraham Mahlangu, SASSA’s acting CEO, said: “We sincerely apologise to the affected beneficiaries and their families. SASSA and the Post Office are working on preventative measures to ensure that such a disruption does not occur in future.”

He urged beneficiaries still experiencing problems to contact SASSA’s toll free call centre at 080 0601 011.