GOOD news for Queensburgh residents needing to collect their Social Security Agency (SASSA) grant payments is that the post offices in the area seem not to be affected by the recent post office or social services department strike action.
Despite widespread reports of problems around the country, Queensburgh residents contacted last week said they had not had trouble receiving their payments.
Ann Thomas, who, along with her husband Barry, are social grant recipients, had nothing but praise for the office she deals with.
“I must say the Chatsworth office is very jacked up. The man running the station also makes a point of helping those of us who he can see have limited mobility,” said Thomas whose husband suffered a stroke which left him paralysed on one side of his body.
Linda Donkin of the Malvern Post Office confirmed on Friday that their services had not been affected by the recent post office workers’ strike which has reportedly left areas around the country with no mail delivery and with some post offices closed to the public.
Donkin also confirmed that while Malvern Post Office is not equipped to issue the new cards to SASSA recipients, which are being rolled-out ahead of the switch to the new payment system, Queensburgh Post Office in Main Road, Escombe, was handling the issue of cards.
“People just have to take their old card and their ID documents to the Queensburgh Post Office and they will be helped there,” explained Donkin who also confirmed that payments were made and will continue to be made from the Malvern Post Office.
“We are open for business and everything is running smoothly,” said Donkin.
Phindile Mbatha, of the Queensburgh Post Office confirmed on Friday morning that services had not been affected by the strike.
While the single-staffed post office has seen an increase in demand for its services of late, it has not been adversely affected by the strikes.
Mbatha said she had heard about the strike but other than awaiting the delivery of post from the depot, she had not had any problems thus far. “I guess I will only know after the expected delivery later today,” she said.
Sister publication, Berea Mail reported that SASSA spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi, said this week that individuals experiencing difficulties either receiving payments or getting their new cards should contact his office as countrywide, social grant beneficiaries were engulfed with confusion.
The confusion reportedly follows a change in payment systems for social grants.
“The communication has been forwarded to all our regional management teams to make sure that where there is a crisis or problem, there’s also an immediate intervention. We can safely say that both SASSA and the South African Post Office (SAPO) are working together to make sure that if there are problems they must be resolved,” said Letsatsi.
Across the country and on social media reports, recipients have expressed dismay at what they have described as “such a mess” giving accounts of being sent from pillar to post and standing in long lines only to find they have been given the incorrect information.
Acting CEO of SASSA Abraham Mahlangu, last week noted the challenges experienced by grants beneficiaries during the current social grant payment cycle.
“We are aware that beneficiaries are experiencing problems with the electronic payment of their social grants. What is being experienced is a result of a process of changing from an old to a new payment system for social grants. SASSA is also in a process of phasing out Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) as directed by the Constitutional Court and introducing SAPO to pay social grants.
“We assure beneficiaries that their social grants will be paid in full. In fact, the funds are already in their accounts. We request beneficiaries to give themselves at least three days to withdraw their grants,” said Mahlangu.
Adding to the anticipated woes of many is the strike action which has in past weeks crippled many of the systems the agency was relying on to ensure payments were made.
The first stumbling block to trip up smooth payments came as Sassa employees went on strike demanding a 15 per cent salary increase and a housing allowance of R2 500.
In response to this action by employees, Social Development Minister, Susan Shabangu, approached the Labour Court in an urgent bid to stop them from striking arguing that the strike would prevent the delivery of basic services. This case, despite being acknowledged as urgent, was postponed, leading to the strikes continuing.
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