Postbank insists Mthatha social grant payments went smoothly, despite pensioners’ complaints of delays
While Postbank denied any problems with pension payouts, some elderly people had to spend days queueing for their money as yet another payout point in Mthatha ran out of cash this week.
Several pensioners returned to the Mthatha Town Hall for the third day on Wednesday in the hope of collecting their grants after the facility ran out of money on Monday and Tuesday.
About 20 pensioners who were in the queue on Wednesday said they arrived on Tuesday morning but had been told at 4pm to “turn back” as the money had run out.
Some of them had to borrow transport money to return home and get something to eat. By Wednesday, they were frustrated.
Mthatha Town Hall is used as an alternative for grant beneficiaries to collect their money on pension paydays.
Villages in the OR Tambo District Municipality have been identified as some of the poorest in the country and most households depend on social grants to survive.
The latest available data for the district is contained in the municipal integrated development plan.
According to this document, 1.27 million people were living in poverty across this municipality – 15.4% higher than the 1.1 million in 2010.
In some rural households, a single social grant is expected to sustain between six and 10 family members.
Pensioners said they often have to borrow money for taxi fees to collect their pensions.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Post Office branches in Eastern Cape and KZN run low on cash for Sassa grants
A 70-year-old woman from Qokolweni village in Mthatha, who was turned away from the Mthatha Town Hall on Tuesday, told Daily Maverick that she was very frustrated to return home empty-handed as they had run out of food a while ago.
She asked not to be named as she is afraid that officials will target her when she collects her pension next month.
“I am one of those affected people. I was here yesterday morning [Tuesday] and we were in the queue the whole day … Unfortunately, at 4pm, we were told that the money was finished and that we must come back. That is why I am here today.
“I had to borrow transport money and cash to get something to eat for the children that I left at home,” she said. “This affects us very badly,” she added.
A pensioner from Waterfall Park, near Mthatha, said she had to walk to town because she had no money for transport.
“The weather was very hot on Tuesday and we were in these queues for hours … later, they told us that they were out of money and would be closing,” she said.
Postbank spokesperson Dr Bongani Diako said cash in Mthatha had been delivered on time.
“The delay there is that the municipality hall, which is used for additional payments, was not opened on time. The hall was then accessible and payments were made.”
Diako maintained there were no problems with the payment of pensions this week.
“Postbank wants to put on record that the Eastern Cape payments of social grants on 3 October went smoothly and there were no incidents of shortages of cash whatsoever, especially in the Mthatha branch and the nearby municipality hall that is used as an overflow of the payments.
“The end of daily business hours of that branch is 4pm. For security reasons, as well as for the safety of the grant recipients, the municipality hall overflow payment point and the post office branch always close in line with its daily operating hours during Sassa payment, as they did on Tuesday.
“Beneficiaries who didn’t receive their payments in the area have the alternative of getting their money at the retailers or ATMs, or either return the next day, which is what some opted for,” he said. DM