Maverick Citizen


Grant beneficiaries tell of struggles to get payouts from Sassa

Grant beneficiaries tell of struggles to get payouts from Sassa
From left: Mother of five Isa Da Gama had her child support grant suspended and then cancelled with no explanation as to why. Mother Motshidisi Makintane (27) has not been able to access the SRD grant even though she has no other source of income. Maureen Robbie (83) says a policy payment she had never applied for was deducted from her old-age grant without her permission from 2019. (Photos: Supplied)

Millions in South Africa rely on social grants, but many have faced problems getting payouts from the SA Social Security Agency, which administers the grants.

South Africa’s extensive social grant system offers much-needed relief to more than 11 million vulnerable people who depend on social protection to make ends meet, but the system has been plagued by problems.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Parents desperate after Sassa suspends 150,000 child support grants 

Isa da Gama, a mother of five, struggled to make ends meet when her Child Support Grant was suspended at the beginning of the year. She was one of 150,000 beneficiaries whose grants were suspended because of what Sassa claimed were erroneous banking details.

grant sassa da gama

Mother of five Isa da Gama had her child support grant suspended and then cancelled with no explanation. (Photo: Supplied)

Da Gama, a resident of Eldorado Park in Gauteng, was told that her grant was suspended because her bank account was not Fica-compliant, but when she approached her bank to rectify the issue, she was told her account was in order.

She returned to Sassa with proof of Fica-compliancy, only to be told that her initials had been incorrectly entered in the system.

“I went to the Sassa branch so many times. Each time I went, there was a new excuse. First, it was my account, and then it was my initials. One of the other times I went, they wanted to see my children’s school report cards,” Da Gama said.

When the 150,000 child support grants were suspended, Sassa told affected beneficiaries that they could apply for the R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant while the agency worked to lift the suspension.

Da Gama applied for the grant and was approved, but she did not receive a payment. She found out her SRD grant had been cancelled but was not given a reason.

Almost two months later, Da Gama finally received her Child Support Grant.

“I may have my grant now, but I still have no clue why it was taken away in the first place. Nobody told us the reason why; the only thing I was told was that it was an error with my account and my initials, but I had all the evidence that everything was correct,” Da Gama said.

“This whole thing has affected me so much. I’ve been experiencing a pain in my heart. When I went to the clinic, they told me it was stress. Even with this money that I got, I had to pay it to the people who bought stationery for my children to use at school and bought food so we can eat.”

Unresolved problem

Another Eldorado Park resident has been battling to get her grant, but unlike Da Gama, 83-year-old Maureen Robbie’s problem has not been resolved despite numerous visits to Sassa’s offices.

grant sassa robbie

Maureen Robbie (83) says a policy payment was deducted from her old age grant without her permission in 2019. (Photo: Supplied.)

In 2019, Robbie, whose only source of income is the monthly old age grant she receives, realised that she wasn’t receiving her entire grant. After querying the issue with Sassa, she found out that the money was being deducted to pay for a Transnet policy.

“I discovered that Transnet had been deducting money since 2019. I was supposed to be getting R2,910, but I was only getting R1,900. When I realised, I went in and cancelled it, but the money kept on being deducted. I went again in 2022 and cancelled it again, and only then did they stop taking the money.

“The thing is, I never signed any documents saying I wanted to take out a policy. They don’t even have my signature. How can they just deduct the money like that?” Robbie said.

She has been trying to get back the money erroneously deducted from her grant payment, but to no avail.

“I’ve tried many times to get the remaining money. It’s my money, but they don’t send it,” Robbie said, “This is my only income. My husband is dead and my children are all grown up and married, so I am alone, and I’m trying to survive on this grant. It is already not a lot of money, and I need every cent because I had a stroke and I need transport to take me to physio.”

In Bloemfontein, Motshidisi Makintane, a 27-year-old mother of one, has been trying to get the SRD grant since it was first announced in 2020.

grant sassa makintane

Mother Motshidisi Makintane (27) has not been able to access the SRD grant. (Photo: Supplied)

“When I was first approved for the SRD, I was given a payment date, but the money was never reflected in my account. I’ve been trying to call Sassa, but even now, nothing has changed. When we go to the branch, we are turned away because the lines are too long,” Makintane told Daily Maverick.

While waiting for the issue to be sorted out, Makintane found out that her latest application for the grant had been rejected because she allegedly had a source of income.

“Sassa keeps saying I have a source of income, even though I am not working. The income that they are talking about is the child grant I am getting for my son. I believe as a single parent and a mother, I should be a beneficiary of the SRD. The money that I get from my son doesn’t include me, it’s for the needs of my child.

“Sassa must stop taking our money, taking our children’s money because, at the end of the day, our children are suffering. That money is for them to eat,” Da Gama said.

Daily Maverick asked Sassa for comment, but no response had been received by the time of publication. DM


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