My children will go to school without shoes, says mother whose child grant has not been paid

SASSA says 150,000 grants have been suspended

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SASSA says 150,000 child support grants have been suspended because of “fraudulent activities”. But grant recipients are puzzled. Archive photo: Barbara Maregele

Isa da Gama, from Eldorado Park in Gauteng, says she will have to send her children to school barefoot when the term begins next week. She is one of tens of thousands of child support grant recipients who have not received their grant for January.

The child support grants of over 150,000 people were suspended at the start of January, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) revealed on Wednesday. SASSA has denied suggestions that a technical problem caused grants to be mistakenly suspended.

A total of 13-million people receive the R510 child support grant every month, about 65% of all children in South Africa.

SASSA spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi insisted in a Radio702 interview on Wednesday morning that the suspensions were due to “fraudulent activities” detected by SASSA as part of its monthly verification processes.

Letsatsi is also quoted by News24 as saying that flooding in some areas could have caused people to relocate, which led them to fail the verification processes.

But this does not appear to match the reality on the ground.

GroundUp reported on Tuesday that child support grants have been suspended for seemingly little or no reason. We visited offices in Cape Town and Kariega on Tuesday where grant recipients lined up to reapply for their grants which were suspended without notice.

Da Gama said grants for her four school-going children had been paid into her bank account throughout 2023 without any issue. But when she checked her account balance on Friday, the nationwide payment day for the child support grant, there was no money.

When she went to the SASSA office on Monday morning, she was told there was a problem with the initials on her bank statement and she must reapply. She called her bank, who said there was no discrepancy on her bank statements.

She returned on Wednesday, waking up at 4am to stand in the line. She took all her supporting documents, but was told to bring her children’s report cards to prove they were in school. It was the first time she had been asked to do so.

“My children will have to go to school without shoes next week,” she told GroundUp. “They’re stealing my children’s money.”

She said she has started asking neighbours to donate some food so she can feed her children.

Another grant recipient said she had been told by a SASSA official on the phone that her grant had been suspended due to a “technical problem”.

“I have three kids going to school but now I’m helpless because I can’t buy anything, not even stationery,” she said.

In response to questions from GroundUp, SASSA spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi confirmed that January saw higher than usual numbers of suspected grants, but maintained that grants were suspended correctly as part of the verification process.

“All clients will in the end receive their money,” Letsatsi said.

Update on 2024-01-11 09:37

We have updated the article to include a comment sent by SASSA after publication.

TOPICS:  Children Social Grants

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