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IT systems outage knocks out SAPO, Postbank services

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The IT systems of the SA Post Office (SAPO) and Postbank have suffered outages, hampering key payment services to some vulnerable citizens.

National postal service SAPO, whose functions include the popular vehicle licence renewal service, announced in a statement this morning that its “point-of-sale and other systems are not available”.

SAPO is mum on the cause of the systems outage, and only states: “Offline transactions can be performed at post office branches, including the posting and collecting of items.

“The post office apologises for the inconvenience and is working to restore its system to an online state as quickly as possible.”

Similarly, Postbank’s system outage entered a second day on Friday.

On Thursday, the financial solutions provider notified customers of technical difficulties, affecting their ability to perform most banking functions, including withdrawal of the special social relief of distress (SRD) grants.

According to Postbank, the system glitch is the result of an outage in one of its data centres.

“Unfortunately, the impact of the outage affects access to services across many of our channels that include ATMs, retail merchants and in-branch transactions,” Postbank said at the time.

“Access to the SRD R350 grant funds and other SASSA payments through these channels is also impacted. We apologise to our valued customers for the inconvenience caused and we are working hard to resolve the matter.”

However, Postbank’s technical challenges continued into Friday, with the entity confirming the systems outage on social media platform Twitter this morning.

It tweeted: “Our banking systems continue to be down due to power outages where our servers are kept. We are working with the municipality to have this resolved. Once again, we apologise for this inconvenience. We will keep you posted on any developments.”

The Postbank outage marks another knock for unemployed citizens that are eligible to receive the SRD grant.

The R350 grant was introduced by government for unemployed persons as a means to cushion them from the financial burden brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its duration has been extended during the course of the pandemic, with the latest extension for a further period of 12 months announced in February.

To qualify once again, relief grant beneficiaries were required to reapply online after requirements were tightened.

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu announced in May that the recipients that qualified for the SRD grant would receive their payments during the month of June.

However, those recipients have yet to receive payments for this cycle of the COVID-19 SRD grants.

Resultantly, the Black Sash, #Paythegrants, amandla.mobi, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Institute for Economic Justice and Social Policy Initiative have launched litigation against the government over what they refer to as “unfair regulations” that govern the SRD grant.

The organisations say in a statement: “We are challenging the arbitrary means test, of R350, which deprives millions of people in need of social assistance. In addition, we explore the use of banks to verify income, the exclusive online application process and problems with appeals.

“We want to share the struggles of lived realities that government’s inaction has had. Despite promises to do so, government is failing to commit to engaging with civil society, to develop a policy for the vital introduction of a sustainable universal basic income grant.”

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