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Earlier this month it was ruled that the banks can reach into your social grant account and make a deduction – this is considered a legitimate action.

This is an interesting verdict given the plight of most households across the country. Two of our offices, one based in Ficksburg and the other in Kwaggafontein, are addressing the issue of social grants and what constitutes a legal or illegal deduction.

In both areas it is not uncommon for entire households to financially survive on one grant (held usually by a retired person who qualifies for a monthly allowance from the state). And the grant is hardly ever enough.

This leads to the elderly, desperate grant holder borrowing against their grant (in a way that you would borrow against your house). Because this is illegal they need to go to a loan shark (or a “Mashonisa”) and strike a deal of borrowing money. The interest is usually around 30%. When midnight hits and the grant goes into the person’s account they don’t even have access to the money – the Mashonisa has their green ID book and SASSA card and takes the money they owe directly off the card the moment they are paid. So the family is living on the previous month’s borrowed money while the loan shark takes what is owed off the card… plus 30%.

This has been explored and exposed by both of these CJN offices (in The Free State and Mpumalanga respectively) showing that it is a widespread problem. They both agree that the solution is strengthening financial literacy in the country. Our Ficksburg office says that people are looking after their kids and grandkids on one grant and are propelled to make rash decisions. However, there has to be education so they can see that this will lead to doom.


Listen to more of our audio on

Listen to Ficksburg advice office expose stories on social justice issues every Thursday at 6.30pm on Setsoto Community Radio.

Listen to our advice office in Kwaggafontein talk about important issues every Thursday at 11am on KCRS FM.


Related stories from CJN:

Overall social grants from The Dobsonville Human Rights Advice Centre, live discussion on Hillbrow Radio.