Collection day: Pensioners collect their grant money in Mpumalanga. Picture: SOWETAN
Collection day: Pensioners collect their grant money in Mpumalanga. Picture: SOWETAN

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has reported controversial grants distributor Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to the police and the Constitutional Court for allegedly interfering in their migration to a new grants payment system.

This was revealed by Minister of Social Development Susan Shabangu at a press briefing on Thursday.

The briefing had been convened to provide an update on the migration from the old payment system administered by CPS to the new one‚ to be operated by the South Africa Post Office (Sapo).

The migration is part of a Constitutional Court judgment issued last year, which found the contract between Sassa and CPS to be unlawful and invalid‚ and ordered that grants be distributed by the state-owned Sapo. The Court also ordered that it be provided with regular updates on the progress made by an inter-ministerial committee set up to oversee the migration process.

Shabangu’s announcement comes after there was chaos earlier this month when some grant beneficiaries struggled to receive their payments while Sapo and Sassa grappled with the migration. Shabangu claimed that there have been many instances of CPS employees waiting at payment points to coerce beneficiaries into signing forms to commit them to remaining on the old system.

"Some of the interference is to make sure that when our beneficiaries go to pay points‚ they are being lured to not continue getting their grants or assistance through the post office. We’ve seen CPS employing or having people who stand at different pay points. They recruit beneficiaries to continue receiving payment through CPS‚" she said.

"One of the things they’ve done is to make sure there’s a particular form that needs to be filled [in] for you to give consent to continue receiving payment from CPS."

The minister said these possible breaches of the Court order had been reported to the Constitutional Court and to the police. "At some pay-points‚ cases have been opened with the police. We have also filed some of these matters with the Constitutional Court‚ to make sure we inform it that CPS continues to try and lure back our beneficiaries."

The inter-ministerial committee‚ which is led by Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma‚ reported that since it started the migration process in April‚ just more than 1.8-million beneficiaries have been issued with new gold Sassa cards. The old white card is due be phased out at the end of September.

The committee said that during this month’s payment cycle‚ Sapo paid grants to 800‚000 beneficiaries on the new gold Sassa card‚ while another 300‚000 were paid via Postbank Mzansi accounts.

According to a statement from the committee‚ "The gold card is safer and does not allow for illegal deductions and fraudulent transactions to take place. It is designed to protect social grant beneficiaries from illegal deductions for things such as electricity‚ airtime and loans. The only deduction permitted on the new gold Sassa card will be for funeral policies on non-child grants‚ which should not be more than 10% of the total grant."

Sapo CEO Mark Barnes said an ongoing strike would only have an impact on actual postal services and not on the payment of social grants.