Social grant distributing agency the Sassa has apologised to the nation for a crisis which led to some grant beneficiaries not being able to access their money since the beginning of this week.
Sassa’s acting chief executive‚ Abraham Mahlangu‚ told Parliament’s portfolio committee on social development that the affected beneficiaries could not receive their grants due to a glitch in the system which had taken a strain due to the high number of people who had registered with the Post Office.
This was not taken lightly by us‚ we don’t undermine our vulnerable. We should be showing that we are a caring government. It is for that reason that we apologise to the nation‚” he said.
Abraham said the South African Post Office’s account profile was at about 233‚000 accounts in May and had jumped to over 930‚000 since they started with the card swap and opening of new Sassa cards. This and the multiple attempts to access grants by the beneficiaries had contributed to the strain in the system which had led to the timing out.
He said technical glitches were first experienced when the payment cycle was opened around midnight on June 30 whereby a number of people trying to access their social grants using the new Sassa cards could not get the money.
“We also realised there was another error which caused the timing out: It was the line that connects SA Post Office’s integrated grant payment system with the banks’ server as part of the transaction processing. That was also throttled by the huge volumes‚” said Mahlangu.
The third issue related to the over-the-counter limit where beneficiaries couldn’t withdraw values over R1‚500 as this was the threshold. The cap had since been removed‚ said Mahlangu‚ while some couldn’t withdraw cash from the Spar group due to acquiring banks not having updated their systems as far as the Spar group was concerned. This too‚ has been resolved according to Mahlangu.
“We are having a full handle on the matter. The issue about the system performance has improved drastically. I am monitoring the system on an hourly basis nationally. I am getting positive reports which are saying people are beginning to get their grants and we should not even need to activate any relief measure. They are confident that they will finish the queues by close of business today‚” he said‚ speaking to the committee’s chairperson‚ Zoleka Capa‚ over the phone.
Mahlangu‚ who was put on a loudspeaker‚ told MPs that he couldn’t attend the parliamentary meeting as he had to be on the ground addressing the crisis.