Urgent Efforts to Replace 5 Million Expired SASSA Cards. Millions of vulnerable South Africans rely on social grants to sustain themselves monthly, and for some beneficiaries, the expiration of their Sassa gold cards could pose difficulties.
The Impact of Expired Sassa Gold Cards
The Department of Social Development (DSD) has disclosed that millions of individuals could face adverse consequences if they fail to renew their South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) gold cards. While expired Sassa Gold Cards can still be used in 2023, a substantial number are set to expire by the year’s end.
Crucial Role of Social Grants
Social grants play a vital role in alleviating hunger and poverty among South Africa’s most vulnerable citizens. Sassa disburses permanent social grants to approximately 19 million people every month, which includes a range of grants such as the Older Persons Grant, Disability Grant, Child Support Grant, Foster Care Grant, Grant in Aid, War Veterans Grant, and the Care Dependency Grant.
Urgent Need for Card Replacement
The DSD has identified about 5.3 million Sassa cards scheduled for replacement by December 31, 2023. Although many of these cards have already expired, beneficiaries have been granted an extension until the year-end to continue using them. These cards will be replaced as part of the Card Replacement Project Plan.
The Card Replacement Project Plan
Overview of the Replacement Strategy
Postbank is implementing a two-phase plan to replace expiring Sassa cards.
Phase 1: Focusing on High-Beneficiary Regions
The initial phase concentrates on regions with the highest concentration of Sassa beneficiaries, including KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga. These regions host the largest number of Sassa grant beneficiaries.
Phase 2: Addressing Lower-Beneficiary Regions
The second phase targets regions with fewer Sassa beneficiaries, such as the Western Cape, North West, Free State, and Northern Cape, which constitute approximately 24% of the total beneficiaries. While beneficiaries in these provinces will still receive new Sassa cards, the primary emphasis will be on renewing cards in provinces with larger beneficiary populations.
Contingency Plans for Ensured Accessibility
Postbank is in discussions with VISA and the South African Reserve Bank to ensure that if new cards cannot be issued to everyone in time, the old ones can still be used temporarily. This measure aims to ensure that Sassa beneficiaries can continue to access their grant money without interruption.
Where to Obtain a New Sassa Card
Accessing a Replacement Card
Beneficiaries whose current gold cards are expiring can obtain a new Sassa gold card at a Post Office branch. It is crucial to note that the Post Office will only issue gold cards to the cardholder or registered Sassa procurator.
The distribution of new gold cards follows a specific schedule. Mondays and Tuesdays cater to old age grant and disability grant beneficiaries, while Wednesdays to Saturdays are dedicated to child support grant beneficiaries and all other grant recipients.
Required Documentation for Card Collection
To collect a new Sassa gold card, individuals must present the following documents:
- South African Identity Document (ID)
- Expiring Sassa gold card
Sassa has ensured that Post Office staff will assist grant beneficiaries in activating their new gold cards and selecting a PIN, making the card fully operational for transactions and withdrawals.
Beneficiary and Provincial Impact
Most Affected Grant Beneficiaries
The group of grant beneficiaries most impacted by expiring Sassa cards includes those receiving child support grants and older persons grants. Over 3.3 million Sassa gold cards are linked to child support grants, while more than 1.5 million expiring cards belong to individuals receiving a Sassa pension.
Provinces with High Card Expirations
KwaZulu-Natal leads with the highest number of expiring cards, where 1,120,702 cards are expected to expire. Gauteng follows with 975,063 Sassa cards due to expire, and more than 775,000 Sassa cards are set to expire in the Eastern Cape.
Alternative Grant Payment Solutions
Introduction of Cardless Payment Solution
In 2023, a new payment solution was introduced, allowing grant beneficiaries to access their grants without relying on a Sassa card. This cardless solution permits beneficiaries to access funds in their bank accounts, reducing dependency on a card. It’s a permanent solution that enables beneficiaries to access payments at participating retailers.
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