Insecurity in South African Social Security: An Examination of Social Grant Deductions, Cancellations, and Waiting

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Southern African Studies, Volume 42, Number 5, p.965–982 (2016)



In 2012, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) contracted a private company, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), to design a standardised national social assistance payment and registration system. The national card-based biometric enrolment and payment system was advanced as a way to make social grant payment more secure – for claimants, the state, and the national fiscus. In practice, however, it translated into forms of insecurity, which served to promote and reproduce precarity. This article considers some of these insecurities, with a focus on the three most pervasive: the cancellation of grants, the expansive, unauthorised monetary deductions from claimants’ accounts, and the new kinds of waiting that the system introduced.

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