Thousands of senior citizens were unable to access their monthly Sassa grants from ATMs or Postbanks on Thursday, marking the third consecutive day that the elderly have been unable to access their pension payments.
A technical glitch that initially emerged on Tuesday and persisted into Wednesday earlier this week disrupted the grant disbursements. Despite the issue having been resolved, a backlog remains, leaving a significant portion of elderly beneficiaries without access to their funds
According to IOL, former Deputy Mayor of Cape Town, Gawa Samuels, witnessed the distressing scenes at the Kuilsrivier Post Office, where hundreds of pensioners were once again turned away empty-handed. She described the situation as ‘terrible.’
According to Samuels, ‘the majority of these Sassa pensioners have still not been paid, yet they have been going to the post office every day. They are informed that Sassa only allocates a certain amount of money each day to be paid out.’
This leads to the repeated disappointment of being instructed to return the next day, only to find the funds exhausted once more.
‘A lot of these pensioners are poor people. They have no money and no food at home. Every day they come back, and they leave with nothing. It has been three days now,’ Samuels lamented.
Samuels noted that Shoprite, another payout location, faced similar overwhelming demand, with long queues potentially extending late into the evening. The same situation was reported at the Blue Downs Shoprite.
One fortunate Sassa pensioner, Aleweya Abarder, aged 80, managed to receive her pension on Thursday after persistent efforts since Tuesday.
Her experience, however, was not without its challenges.
She attempted to withdraw her pension from an Absa ATM at Kenilworth Centre but was informed that there were insufficient funds in her Sassa account. She estimated that more than 1 000 pensioners were queuing at various ATMs, Checkers, and Pick ‘n Pay outlets.
Abarder recounted, ‘Checkers and Pick ‘n Pay had given people seats while they waited, but the people were standing in queues at the ATMs.’
Even after trying three different ATMs, all conveyed the same message: no available funds. Fortunately, the Kenilworth Centre Spar ATM manager assisted Aleweya and her husband in accessing their pension payouts. It appeared that the funds were indeed available on their cards, but the ATMs were not reflecting this information.
She noted, ‘We were still fortunate to have children who could help us while we have not been able to get our money, but what about the people who don’t?’
Dr Bongani Diako, spokesperson for Postbank, stated that their grant payment system had regained stability after being restored, but due to ongoing backlogs, some Sassa grant beneficiaries, including pensioners, would have to wait until the following day to access their funds.
Dr Diako explained, ‘The technical challenge that impacted us on Tuesday and early morning on Wednesday has unfortunately caused a backlog of the reversals of funds into beneficiary accounts that the Postbank teams are busy crediting. This funds reversal backlog mainly affected some beneficiaries who were impacted by transaction time-outs while attempting to withdraw their Sassa money on Tuesday and early parts of Wednesday when the old age grants and disability grants were being paid.’
He added, ‘When these transactions timed out, unfortunately, the funds weren’t automatically reversed into the affected beneficiaries’ accounts. The processing of the reversals of funds into the affected accounts started yesterday, and it’s proceeding.’
Dr Diako assured affected Sassa grant beneficiaries that they would be able to access their money on Friday as all account corrections would be up-to-date. Funds would be accessible through ATMs, retailers and post office branches, providing some relief to the beleaguered pensioners.
Written by Sarah du Toit for Cape Town ETC.
Feature Image: Unsplash