Dianne Dunkerley, executive manager of grants administration at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), said Grindrod Bank was being "disingenuous" when it stated that it was "forced to charge grant beneficiaries bank charges due to Sassa withdrawing their subsidy".
Dunkerley was speaking to GroundUp after the Constitutional Court granted Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) another extension of its improperly instituted 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," Grindrod Bank said in a media release on March 28.
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 was "disingenuous". She explained that Sassa's contract with CPS allowed beneficiaries to be paid at cashpoints 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 CPS to continue making payments at cashpoints, 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 was an interim arrangement until new Sassa cards became available.
"The new Sassa cards will be available from April 16, in limited number, but certainly at the end of April," Dunkerley said.