Social Grants in Chaos As Post Offices Begin Closing Cash Pay Points

Social Grants in Chaos As Post Offices Begin Closing Cash Pay Points

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By Anele Zulu

Postbank has confirmed the start of phasing out in-person cash payments for social grants at certain Post Office branches countrywide. This closure of cash pay points (CPPs) has already started and remain between (2 to 24 February 2024). However, civil society groups have raised concerns about poor communication and hardship for beneficiaries.

As of the February 2024 payment cycle, Postbank spokesperson Bongani Diako stated the first stage of shutdowns has begun. This involves halting cash payouts in urban areas and branches serving under 50 grant recipients.

Diako said the process aims to finish by March 2024, after originally being slated to start in January. It reflects a 2018 strategy to boost safety and efficiency by reducing cash volumes and freeing up capacity.

Over 26 million South Africans rely on social grants. Back in December 2023, Postbank and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) emphasized that 98% of users already withdraw through retail stores, ATMs and other digital channels.

Confusion and Travel Costs for Beneficiaries

However, regional manager Evashnee Naidoo of non-profit Black Sash highlighted considerable uncertainty around which pay points are closing. She said users now face extra transport expenses to access grants.

Naidoo also raised security fears with ATM withdrawals. Additionally, she noted some retailers are battling large customer volumes from grant recipients.

“There has been no communication from the government to assist with the closure of CPPs and to help beneficiaries cope with the change in [payment] channels,” she criticized.

Naidoo explained that many older and disabled citizens have depended on Post Offices for safe, familiar and low-tech grant payments.

Ongoing Communications Around Closures

In response, Diako outlined Postbank and Sassa’s “nationwide communication programme” on CPP shutdowns. This includes social media updates, radio ads and community engagement.

She said grant recipients can still reset PINs and replace cards at Post Office branches. However, from March 5 recipients should rather pay for purchases directly with their payment cards.

The phased closure of cash pay points intends to boost efficiency and safety for social grant beneficiaries. Yet advocacy groups emphasize the need for clear guidance to prevent hardship during this transition.

Ongoing announcements aim to create understanding around alternative payment channels as an increasing number of Post Office outlets halt in-person cash payouts.


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