“System glitch” stalls social grant payments to pensioners

Postbank says problem has mostly been resolved

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Pensioners at Blue Route mall in Cape Town waited for hours for their grant money. Photos: Qaqamba Falithenjwa

  • A technical glitch on Postbank’s payment system left thousands of pensioners across the country without their grants on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
  • Grant recipients were battling to access their money from retailers and ATMs.
  • At one Cape Town mall, pensioners were seen standing in lines and sitting on benches outside retail stores and ATMs, hoping the issue would be resolved.
  • Postbank said that the issue had been resolved by midday on Wednesday.

A technical glitch on Postbank’s payment system left thousands of pensioners across the country without their grants on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Grant recipients could not access their money from retailers and ATMs. The SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) said payments through Post Office branches were not affected.

After the SA Post Office took over the payments of social grants, SASSA and the Post Office urged beneficiaries to collect their grants at retailers and ATMs on payment days to avoid long queues outside post offices. But several glitches have affected grant payments.

GroundUp was contacted on Tuesday by pensioners waiting at retail stores and ATMs in Blue Route Mall in Tokai, Cape Town, to collect their grant. When we arrived at midday, we were told at the stores that “the system was offline”. Scores of elderly people were waiting in long queues.

Provincial SASSA spokesperson Shivani Wahab said the “glitch” had only affected pensioners who withdraw their grants at ATMs and retailers. She said transactions made with the SASSA gold card within Post Office branches were not affected..

Wahab said: “SASSA was advised by Postbank of intermittent technical issues experienced with social grant payments today.”

At the front of the line inside the mall was 67-year-old Jonathan Cedras. He said he had arrived at 6:30am and had been waiting over six hours to collect his 87-year-old mother’s grant. “My mother used to come with me, but she’s old and can’t stand for too long.

“We’re standing in this queue and don’t have an answer as to what is going on. We just heard this morning that the system is offline,” said Cedras. He said people in the queue had not been told when the system would be back online and many were uncertain whether to return home empty-handed or to wait.

“The grant is my mother’s only source of income,” he said.

Pensioners queued at Checkers for their money.

Monica Ballie, 75, was standing at the back of the line with her great-grandchild. “We have been standing here since 8am and we can’t even buy something to eat because we’re not getting the money we’re here for. I’m diabetic, I’m hungry and I have to wait for money for food. It’s not right,” said Ballie.

“I have two children in the house, they are not working. Only my pension feeds us,” said Loretta Jackson, 60.

A taxi driver outside the mall said some pensioners had to walk home because they could not pay the return fare without their grant money.

In a statement at midday on Wednesday, Postbank said that a technical issue which intermittently affected withdrawals on Tuesday had been resolved for all ATM and Post Office branch transactions. “This means that SASSA customers using the SASSA Gold Cards can now immediately access their social grants via ATMs and Post Office branches,” said Postbank spokesperson Bongani Diako.

“Postbank’s technical teams are working on restoring the transactions inside the retailers as there are still intermittent challenges with transactions through this channel.”

The Black Sash said many beneficiaries had been forced to stay overnight at payment sites because they could not afford to travel twice.

“SASSA has a duty to keep beneficiaries properly informed as well as aiding beneficiaries who will now sleep on pavements because they cannot afford to go home. We are witnessing beneficiaries moving from one ATM to another, desperately trying to access their grants.” Black Sash said the Minister of Social Development and SASSA must urgently deal with technical challenges with SAPO and Postbank.

TOPICS:  Sassa Social Grants

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

SASSA said they're back online? What lies. On Tuesday we queued at ShopRite but our cards were declined. Then went to Pick n Pay and managed to get two payments. The third card was declined.

Tried numerous times still no luck. Went back Wednesday but it was the same story after telling pensioners they're online. Some people who had phones received their money. Others did balance enquiries only to find out there was no money in their accounts, while others couldn't even do a balance enquiry because it was declined immediately.

These old people rely on this little income. This month it was paid later than usual and still people couldn't access their money. Things are really bad in this country when they start ripping off our old citizens for their measly little income. No one is there to tell pensioners what's going on or why they have no money in their cards. The supermarkets have no clue except that they're offline. SASSA needs to be held responsible. People are tired of all their excuses!

Dear Editor

There are some beneficiaries whose pension grants were not paid in full. One beneficiary was short-paid an amount of R600! That is a small fortune to someone who depends on that to barely get through till the next grant payday.

Dear Editor

It is absolutely appalling that pensioners who should be paid by the 3rd of the month have still not been paid because SASSA does not pay on Fridays or Mondays. So by Tuesday - already the 5th of the month and nearly making last month a week longer - we were still unable to get their pensions either.

The President and his Minister should make this a top priority for these poor people who have had to stand in queues for two days at an advanced age and some were even sleeping overnight at the pay centres as they cannot afford to get transport home.

This is shocking and I hope made very public for the lack of service and consideration while those in charge drive around in big black cars with blue lights and would not consider giving any of them a lift home or a meal.

What more can one say? Shocking.

Dear Editor

My mother an 82-year-old here at Empangeni in KZN did not receive her SASSA grant today. She went to retailers and to the ATM but she came back weeping and very sad that she could not get her money.

What is really going on? Our senior citizens are crushed at this moment because of this. I so wish the minister could intervene in this situation.

Dear Editor

In Pick n Pay you are charged a R21 service fee to get your money but the workers either could not or would not tell us what was going on to help us. One person was told to come back next week!

Dear Editor

My friend has still not received her SASSA. Her debit orders have not gone off and she has had to borrow money to pay her debit orders. She is in a state of fear and depression. This is absolutely unnecessary. These people have worked hard all their lives and now they are being mistreated. Come on SASSA do what is right.

Dear Editor

Sometimes things do go wrong but they usually inform us as pensioners. We cannot go every day and get told that there's nothing yet. We have to walk to different areas each day and return with aches and pains. SASSA, please set a true date so that you do not waste our time. This is only right.

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