THE SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) is racing against time to register about 100,000 beneficiaries who risk losing their grants and pensions if they don't renew their cards.
The most affected provinces are Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KZN, which have a large number of social grant beneficiaries yet to switch to the new gold Sassa cards, the agency said yesterday.
The agency has warned that beneficiaries who have not yet migrated to the new cards may lose their benefits.
The agency completed the switch over to its new cards in December and managed to swap more than seven million old cards, with some beneficiaries opting to receive their grants directly in their private bank accounts.
However, about 100,000 beneficiaries had not yet presented themselves to the agency’s offices or the Post Offices for new applications.
Abraham Mahlangu, Sassa acting CEO, said this was “quite concerning as this looked set to deny these recipients their “constitutional right to social security”.
Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi urged beneficiaries to come forward and make the switch as soon as possible.
Sassa, however, did not rule out the possibility of the non-activation of the new cards as a result of fraud, or beneficiaries not residing in the country or being deceased.
Letsatsi said the grants have to be collected every month and the law discouraged non-collection for three consecutive months.
If social grants were not collected in three successive months, it can mean that the beneficiary had perhaps found a source of income and felt they no longer qualify for the grants, Sassa said.
Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker from human rights organisation Black Sash said they were concerned that there was a significant number of beneficiaries that have not migrated to the new Sassa/Sapo card.
“This implies that there may be beneficiaries who are not receiving grants, which begs the questions as to how they are surviving as they depend on grants as a lifeline to meet their daily needs,” she said.
Abrahams-Fayker said beneficiaries may therefore resort to opening commercial bank accounts to access their grants.
“This option is not ideal for beneficiaries because they then incur costs through bank charges and services, whereas the Sassa/Sapo card has a special disbursement account which provides basket-free services. By accessing their grants through a commercial bank account, it reduces the cash value of their grants.”
In its report to parliament last month, Sassa indicated that 71% of its beneficiaries, amounting to 7.8m, were paid through the Post Bank while 2.1m (19.5%) were paid through other banks. About 9.5%, or just more than one million, were paid by Grindrod Bank’s Easy Pay account.