“I had to beg for my child’s maintenance money”

The Department of Justice’s payment portal, MojoPay, has suspended electronic payments since May due to suspected fraud

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Last month the Department of Justice suspended electronic maintenance payments after possible fraud was detected on the electronic payment portal. Photo: Brian Turner via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

  • Suspected fraud has delayed spouse and child maintenance payments to tens of thousands of parents this month after the Department of Justice’s payment portal called MojoPay suspended electronic payments on 7 May.
  • The department has said people can collect their money in cash at magistrate courts.
  • It said electronic payments are expected to continue from 1 July.
  • We spoke to a few mothers who had been sent from pillar-to-post and who paid a lot of money to travel to the courts before they were paid. Others are still waiting for their money.

A single mother from Ezibeni, a township just outside Komani in the Eastern Cape says she was sent from pillar-to-post by Department of Justice officials and was made to “beg” before she received her child’s maintenance payment after almost a month.

She was among many parents who struggled to access their monthly payment after the department’s payment portal called MojoPay on 7 May suspended services. This was done after fraudulent activities were detected within the system.

This left many people without the means to access their maintenance monies electronically. Siphokazi Ntantiso says she was only informed about the system issue after the matter received media attention. Ntantiso, like most other affected parents, were instructed to visit their nearest magistrate’s court to collect the payment in cash. Each month she receives R3,800 for her 13-year-old son and R2,000 in spousal maintenance.

However, when she arrived at the court in Ezibeleni, she was told that the court did not have a cashier and she would have to travel to the magistrate’s court in Komani, at least two taxi rides away.

In Komani, Ntantiso says she arrived to find a line of other women also waiting for maintenance payments. “The cashiers treated us like people who have come to beg,” she says.

“The cashiers at Komani Magistrate Court argued with me and other women who came from other courts that this is not our jurisdiction. They then told us to wait until they served all their beneficiaries, and then they would consider paying our money,” says Ntantiso.

After waiting for hours, and threatening to post the cashier on social media, Ntantiso says they were finally helped. She was eventually paid half of her money and was given a form to request the outstanding fees.

Zamanywabe Skeyi from Mdantsane says she waited three weeks for her child’s maintenance funds. “The Department of Justice did not even bother to inform us that there was a problem with the system until we enquired. It was a difficult time because I don’t have other income. I rely on my SASSA disability grant,” she says.

As a wheelchair user, Skeyi had to pay R400 each time she needed to hire transport to the East London Magistrate Court.

But some beneficiaries like Boniswa Ndala were not as fortunate because they are yet to receive a cent. She expects her payment will be processed by 30 June. Ndala says her child has gone to her father for the mid-term holidays.

The department’s spokesperson, Kgalalelo Masibi, said the delay has been caused by them having to verify some of the beneficiaries’ bank accounts. “This is done to ensure that bank details of beneficiaries are validated prior to the resumption of automatic payments which is estimated to resume from 1 July 2024.”

The founder of the organisation, Child Maintenance Difficulties in South Africa, Felicity Guest estimated that tens of thousands of women had been affected.

Guest said the payment system had been riddled with issues since the department migrated to MojoPay in 2020. “The first problem occurred during Covid in 2020 and it took about a month to fix it. Every time when these problems occur, we always encounter communication difficulties with the department of justice,” said Guest.

She said some magistrate courts are not well equipped to deal with large volumes of cash payments because some courts don’t have cashiers. “Maybe it is time for the Department of Justice to convert all MojoPay garnishee orders to direct debit orders [which would pay the other parent directly],” said Guest.

Masibi added that beneficiaries still waiting for their payments should go to their nearest court with their IDs to be assisted with cash payments in the interim.

TOPICS:  Court Human Rights

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

The Department of Justice should employ qualified, experienced people and root out those who are committing the fraud instead of punishing people who depend on the funds.

Perhaps the staff that "operate" the portal should not be paid for a few months to ensure they understand what the ramifications of non-payment are!

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