South Africa: Grant Beneficiaries Queue At ATMs As KZN Post Offices Run Out of Cash

“In the 90s, the Post Office was reliable but now it seems as if everything is falling apart,” says KwaMashu pensioner

The lines outside shops and ATMs at the mall in KwaMashu, Durban, were longer than usual this week with people queuing to collect their social grants. This follows a notice by Postbank, which distributes grants, that many post office branches in KwaZulu-Natal had run out of cash to pay grant beneficiaries.

Postbank urged people to instead withdraw their money at ATMs and stores. Civil society groups have previously criticised government for its move to get more beneficiaries to collect their grants at banks and stores because this means the recipient incurs withdrawal charges and does not get the full amount of their much-needed grant.

The October payment cycle kicked off on Tuesday, with Old Age grant distribution. We spoke to a few pensioners in KwaMashu who complained about standing for too long and others said they often needed help at the ATMs. There were about 100 elderly people in the line when we arrived.

Zizakele Gamede said she was shocked when she arrived to see a very long line. “I think next time I will come with my granddaughter so that it will be easy for me to sit while she stands in the line.”

Another pensioner, Petros Gwitsha, said he finds using ATMs difficult. “I don’t even have a smartphone so using the ATM is a big challenge.

“I have decided to come with my granddaughter to help me and teach me because I have been warned several times about criminals who are stealing some peoples card at the ATMs especially here in KwaMashu,” said Gwitsha.

NtombiZanele Ngcobo said last month she applied to get her grant paid into a personal bank account because Postbank has been unreliable. “In the 90s the Post Office was reliable but now it seems as if everything is falling apart,” said Ngcobo.

All of the beneficiaries we spoke did receive their grant that day.

Postbank’s statement read, “Post Office branches in KwaZulu-Natal anticipate having insufficient cash as a result of cash delivery delays. The SASSA gold cards operate like any other bank card and can be used to make cash withdrawals from any bank ATM.

“The cards can also be used to make withdrawals at tills inside retail stores as well as make in-store purchases. Post Office branches in KwaZulu-Natal will be open and operational to assist social grants beneficiaries with SASSA non-cash services such as PIN resets.”