They will be checked: South African Social Security Agency CEO Pearl Bengu says in a report to the court that recipients will be biometrically verified before the card swap is done. Picture: GCIS
They will be checked: South African Social Security Agency CEO Pearl Bengu says in a report to the court that recipients will be biometrically verified before the card swap is done. Picture: GCIS

The Black Sash has criticised the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) for its handling of the Easy Pay Everywhere accounts that are marketed to social grant recipients.

And in its review of Sassa’s latest monthly report to the Constitutional Court, the Black Sash also questioned Sassa’s ability to manage the vast majority of payments without Net1 subsidiary Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) after March 31.

The Black Sash did not believe the South African Post Office was ready to assume a significant role and noted that much of its planned involvement was at the testing stage.

The nongovernmental organisation acknowledged that Sassa had begun to tackle the problematic issue of the Easy Pay Everywhere accounts, which were marketed by another Net1 subsidiary and, with the help of Sassa staff, often targeted social grant recipients.

Sassa has issued a circular to its staff informing them that this was a breach of contract. However, Sassa has not indicated how this directive will be monitored or enforced.

“Our community partners on the ground and callers on our helpline are indicating that this directive is not being adhered to,” said Black Sash national director Lynnette Maart.

Sassa has asked CPS to provide mandates from beneficiaries who have allegedly opted to receive their grants directly into Easy Pay Everywhere accounts.

On February 8, Sassa sent out letters to about 1.9-million Easy Pay Everywhere cardholders, requesting that they confirm if they wish to continue receiving their grants into their Easy Pay Everywhere accounts.

Sassa has not disclosed what progress has been made on this front.

Maart said the Black Sash investigations revealed that desperate grant beneficiaries had been duped into signing up for Easy Pay Everywhere accounts.

The Black Sash said it was encouraged by the progress made by Sassa and the Post Office, but was concerned that their roll-out plan was premised on successful testing of the new card with the Payment Association of SA.

“As much of the activity is still in the testing stages, the implementation plan for the card swap may be rendered unrealistic,” said Maart.

Sassa’s plan envisaged 5.7-million recipients migrating from Sassa/Grindrod cards to Sassa/Post Office cards.

Sassa CEO Pearl Bengu said in the report to the court that recipients would be biometrically verified before the card swap was done.

Sassa had begun to tackle the issue of the Easy Pay Everywhere accounts