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Deadline for social grant tender draws closer

A deadline for a multi-billion rand tender to administer social welfare grants is drawing closer.

Pensioners queue outside of a supermarket in Mitchells Plain on the 1st of the month to collect their SASSA grants. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A deadline for a multi-billion rand tender to administer social welfare grants is drawing closer.

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is expected to award the new tender next month.

The Constitutional Court in 2013 ruled Sassa had to restart a tender process after it found irregularities within the current payment system managed by cash paymaster services, a subsidiary of financial services company, Net1.

A ministerial task team is also dealing with unlawful deductions from beneficiaries' payouts.

These include deductions for water, electricity, airtime and funeral policies.

It has found confidential information of grant recipients has been made available to Net1 subsidiaries.

Sassa CEO Virginia Petersen says out of about 16 million people receiving grants, 5,000 people are affected.

"What we've experienced is that some unscrupulous service providers have gone in sold policies and you'll have a gogo with three policies, and they might just only need one."

'ILLEGAL DEDUCTIONS'

A Kraaifontein grandmother says several illegal deductions from her Sassa pension for airtime and electricity have left a large hole in her pocket.

Social Justice group, the Black Sash, which started the 'Hands Off Our Grants' campaign in November 2013 and logged and investigated hundreds of complaints from pensioners across the country since then.

In most cases deductions from pensions are for airtime, electricity, water and funeral cover.

75-year-old Maureen Malgas says she and her husband both received a R100 less when they withdrew last month's pension.

She adds they received no explanation for the deduction of R200.

"It was short on our food and electricity. It was very hard to survive because we live on our own. I can't just go to the shop and buy bread. I have to buy wheat and flour and knead my own bread."

Sassa says of about 16 million South Africans currently receiving social grants about 500,000 are affected by unlawful or immoral debit deductions.

According to the Social Security Act, no money should be ceded without the permission of a beneficiary.

Sassa only allows for a deduction of up to 10 percent for a funeral policy.

But this has been no comfort yet to Maureen who is still trying to stop the deductions on her pension.

Click here to read more on EWN's Special Report on the plight of SA's pensioners.

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