The 105,756 unlawful deduction disputes that were lodged with the South African Social Services Agency (Sassa) in 2016 substantially understates the extent of the problem, says the Black Sash, the nongovernmental organisation leading the charge against unlawful social grant deductions. On Wednesday, the Western Cape provincial legislature’s standing committee on community development heard that just more than 10,000 of the disputes had been resolved and R1.2m refunded to the disputing parties. More than half of the disputed deductions were related to electricity and airtime payments. Social grants are controlled by the Department of Social Development and provincial departments have no authority over them. However, Lorraine Botha, the DA’s Western Cape spokeswoman on community development, said the provisional government had received hundreds of complaints about unlawful deductions and had decided to look into the situation. Tuesday’s meeting in Cape Town was a follow-up to a meetin...

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