Social grant beneficiaries cry over unlawful deductions Recipients cry ‘unfair’

IRATE social grant beneficiaries around the city are demanding answers from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), following “unlawful” monthly deductions from their Sassa account, which has been going on for years.

Nomusa Khumalo (64), from Imbali­ Unit 2, is among the thousands of pensioners who are victims of these unlawful deductions which range from R100 to R800. Khumalo has had R100 deducted from her grant money for airtime which she knows nothing anything about for the past year.

When this amount was first deducted it was R90, but this year it has increased to R100.

Khumalo said she has been in and out of Sassa offices to inquire about the deductions, only to be told she had “bought R100 airtime on credit”.

“We get paid on the first day of every month, but these deductions are made on the 13th of every month. I have complained several times about this, only to be given contact numbers which go unanswered.

“Every month, it’s a different number and when I phone the number it doesn’t exist.”

Khumalo said she is not the only one experiencing this problem because many facing the same problem, with some pensioners having R800 deducted from their account for buying pre-paid electricity they know nothing about.

After seeing the deductions, she took a chance and tried to borrow R100 worth of airtime, but unsuccessfully.

Another child-heading family who lives in France’s Mpumelelo Section, said they receive R1 500 for a foster care grant for two children, however, the amounts vary as they sometimes receive R1 400 or R1 300.

“When we inquire about this we are told that we had used credit for airtime which we never did.”

Other pensioners said while they believe this is an inside job by Sassa employees.

They also believe that loan sharks are involved since the problem often begins after one has loaned money­ from them.

“Sassa should have a system that does not allow access to one’s account except owners because some loan sharks are opportunists and lure pensioners­ with affordable loans, only to deduct more,” said a pensioner who did not want to be identified.

Sassa spokesperson Mbizeni Mdlalose said: “We wish to advise all social grants beneficiaries who are experiencing these deductions to visit their nearest local offices.

“Our officials know how to deal with such queries. Alternatively they can contact 0800 60 1011.”