Dianne Dunkerley, executive manager of grants administration at the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), told GroundUp that Grindrod Bank was being "disingenuous" when it stated that it was "forced to charge grant beneficiaries bank charges due to SASSA withdrawing their subsidy".
On 23 March, the Constitutional Court granted Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) a six-month extension on its contract with SASSA to continue doing cash payments until September.
"Grindrod Bank are forced to charge grant beneficiaries bank charges due to SASSA withdrawing their subsidy," said Grindrod Bank in a media release on 28 March.
Who is affected by the new charge?
It's easier to answer this question by first saying who isn't affected. Grant recipients who collect their payments in cash from SASSA paypoints are not affected. Recipients whose grants are paid directly into their commercial bank accounts are also not affected.
But recipients who collect their money using their SASSA cards via ATMs or third parties such as Pick 'n Pay, will be charged the R10. These recipients are in effect holders of Grindrod bank accounts (although they may never deal directly with the account).
According to the statement, SASSA card users will have to pay a monthly fixed fee of R10 as well as ATM cash withdrawal charges.
Dunkerley said this is "disingenuous". She explained that SASSA's contract with CPS allowed beneficiaries to be paid at cash points and through ATMs, for which SASSA paid a transaction fee of R16.44 per beneficiary "to CPS to help soften the bank charges".
But because the Constitutional Court ruling only allows for CPS to continue making payments at cash points, beneficiaries who collect their grants at ATMs or stores would have to pick up the charges. "Banks can charge their clients whatever fee they like," said Dunkerley.
Dunkerley was quick to add that this is an interim arrangement until new SASSA cards become available. "The new SASSA cards will be available from 16 April, in limited number, but certainly at the end of April," said Dunkerley.