Card fraud woes haunt pensioner

James Matthews

Author, poet, and political activist, James Matthews, 90, from Silvertown, was left
R3 000 poorer after money was taken from his South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) card.

Kevin Fransman, Mr Matthews’s neighbour, who looks out for his well-being, said he took Mr Matthews every month to withdraw his pension and do some grocery shopping.

According to Mr Matthews, he went to withdraw his pension on Saturday November 2 from an ATM, but his transaction was declined. He did not go the previous day, when pensions are usually paid out, as it was full everywhere.

By Monday November 4, when his card was still being declined,
Mr Matthews and Mr Fransman went to the Athlone SASSA office to get some answers.

“We were told that the card
Mr Matthews used was cancelled, and somebody made an application for a new card. Mr Matthews had to fill in fraud papers at SASSA, because he never authorised a new card, or cancelled the one he used. What we don’t understand, is that it was done without Mr Matthews’s signature or his identity document.

“How can somebody make an application when the person is not present and without an ID?” Mr Fransman asked.

Mr Matthews said he had more money on his SASSA card than his pension amount because he had been saving up for something special for himself for Christmas.

Mr Fransman said it had saddened him that the SASSA official helping them had calmly stated that this had happened to others before, and it could only be an “inside job”.

Initial investigations show that the money was withdrawn at an FNB ATM on Thursday October 31 at 10.30pm. The money is only supposed to be available on the first of every month.

The Athlone News sent a list of questions to Shivani Wahab, the regional SASSA spokesperson.

Ms Wahab confirmed getting the emailed questions but said they could only respond once they had concluded their investigation.

Mr Fransman said they were told that it could take up to three months for a refund for Mr Matthews – and that was only if the investigation proved fraud had indeed occurred.