Pensioners wait in a queue at a Sassa pay point. Picture: SOWETAN
Pensioners wait in a queue at a Sassa pay point. Picture: SOWETAN

Thousands of social grant beneficiaries have yet to receive their money this month due to hitches in the changeover to a new payment system, the Daily Dispatch reports.

The elderly, sick and desperate have been queuing at ATMs, shops and Sassa offices across the country as their money was not transferred into bank accounts on the first of the month.

Sassa acting CEO Abraham Mahlangu on Monday asked beneficiaries to wait at least three days to withdraw their grants, and assured them their social grants would be paid in full.

"In fact, the funds are already in their accounts. Sassa and the South African Post Office are working tirelessly to find a solution to this problem and ensure that all beneficiary services are restored in the shortest possible time."

Sassa Eastern Cape spokesperson Luzuko Qina did not give details of how many people were affected, or whether they were mostly Sassa card holders or bank accounts holders — but did say both were affected.

Qina said: "Beneficiaries’ grants have been paid to all Sassa cards and accounts but access to this is where the challenge is.

"This challenge is being resolved and within three days beneficiaries shall have accessed their grants. Sassa with SAPO are working around the clock to sort this matter out."

The glitch has not only left some recipients without money — but has also cost them money. Nelisiwe Motomane has spent more than R100 on taxi fare to collect her grandchild’s R400 at an ATM in Qumbu.

"We have to wake up early in the village to catch transport going to town and when we get to the ATMs there is no money," Motomane said.

"This is so sad to watch the elderly suffer like this. People are crying, they are hungry. This is the first time using this new method and already it is giving problems. I hope they can sort this out soon."

Nombeko Kweniso said she had been travelling 28km from Emahlungulu village to Qumbu and back to collect her four grandchildren’s money every day since Sunday.

"We thought the problem was with the old cards, only to find out the new cards are not working as well. I have been going up and down for three days and this is not fair on us."

One woman said: "We have been sleeping on empty stomachs since last week and the only thing we have left back at home is a bag of mielie meal which we eat in the morning. This situation will drive many people to loan sharks."

Sicelo Sitoto of Ziphunzane said: "They said we would be given food in the meantime but that too has not happened."