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Social grant recipients asked to check bank charges

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Several commercial banks agreed not to charge social grant recipients fees

MORE than three million social grant recipients, who had already claimed their grants, have been asked to check if they have been charged withdrawal fees by their banks.

If so the affected beneficiaries have been asked to contact their banks or post offices and Sassa offices to ask for refunds on their withdrawal fees.

The call was made by Black Sash after several commercial banks agreed not to charge social grant recipients fees for withdrawing their cash.

The offer by banks stated that it was for the duration of the 21 days nationwide lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week.

Now, Blash Sash has also urged social grants recipients – especially child and foster care grant recipients – to use any ATMs in the country to withdraw their funds following the Banking Association South Africa (BASA) assurance that they will not be charged withdrawal fees. The payment of grants are expected to continue until tomorrow (Friday). Sassa and Sapo began its payment earlier on Monday in their bid to comply with the government’s call to ensure the safety of all beneficiaries. 

Blash Sash national advocacy manager Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker said her organisation welcomed the news that commercial banks will waver their banking fees for social grant beneficiaries during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Basa said grant beneficiaries could now withdraw their money from any ATM without paying Saswitch charges or withdrawal fees. 

“While BASA acknowledged that some beneficiaries have been levied bank fees for the current payment cycle, they have indicated these charges will be reversed. The Black Sash urges social grant recipients to keep their payment slips and bank statements for the period and to dispute any withdrawal and Saswitch fees.

“Requests for reversal of fees can be made with their bank, at a Post Office branch, a SASSA pay point or a SASSA helpdesk.

Abrahams-Fayker said Black Sash strongly recommends that this new regime of no banking fees for social grant beneficiaries should become a permanent feature saying by making this social responsibility contribution to grant beneficiaries, the banking sector could  ensure that the poor receive the full cash value of their social grants.

Earlier this week, Sassa announced that it had already paid out to more than 4 million social grants payments since Sassa brought the social grants payment date forward and set aside March 30 and 31 as special days for older persons and persons with disabilities.

Sassa national spokesperson Kgomoco Diseko said Billions of rands were paid out, mostly through various commercial banks.

“The large transactions took place despite minor glitches reported in some areas. These

include long queues, overcrowding and failure to comply with social distancing and hygiene

guidelines at some pay outlets. There were also reported cases of depletion of cash at some

post office outlets due to higher than normal numbers of people,” Diseko said.

He said the payment of social grants highlighted the importance of providing safety nets for the poor and vulnerable particularly amid what had been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Without social grants, over 12 million vulnerable people who are currently on the social assistance programme will have no safety net to mitigate the negative socio-economic impact of COVID-19,” Diseko said.