‘Hands off our grants’ protesters want stop to unlawful deductions

Protesters aim to get the court to reject a request for a declaratory order filed by Net1 technologies.

Social grant beneficiaries and civil society partners making their way into St George's Cathedral for the “Hands Off our Grants” Service. Picture: Twitter/@black_sash

JOHANNESBURG - Pensioners are protesting outside the High Court in Pretoria where Human Rights Movement, the Black Sash, and other applicants are requesting an order that protects social grant beneficiaries against unlawful deductions.

The protest, titled 'Hands Off Our Grants', aims to get the court to reject a request for a declaratory order, filed by Net1 technologies, against the department of social development.

The Social Assistance Act was recently amended to stop certain money from being deducted from state grants.

Net1 is the company contracted to pay South African welfare grants to 16,9 million beneficiaries.

The Black Sash movement says it has received an avalanche of complaints from pensioners claiming that unauthorised money is being deducted from their South African Social Service Agency accounts.

The movement says the deductions undermine the beneficiary's dismal financial state and the basic purpose for which the money is granted.

The Black Sash and six grant beneficiaries will ask the court to make an order, protecting the accounts against any type of deductions as these put a strain on poor families.

The Human Rights movement's Thandiwe Zulu says, "If you take away R90 every month, from a R350 grant that is meant for a child - how is that child expected to survive?"

Net1 argues that once a grant is deposited into a beneficiaries' account, the account owner becomes the lawful owner, and therefore the minister has no say in what happens with that money.