South Africans will be able to use any ATM without additional charges for two months starting August, the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) has said.
In a statement on Monday (26 July), BASA said banks have taken this decision to assist social grant beneficiaries living in areas affected by the recent unrest.
1 August – 30 September
“To assist social grant recipients who live in areas where ATMs and branches have been destroyed, customers will be able to use any ATM, including those not operated by their own bank, without incurring additional charges, from 1 August 2021 to 30 September 2021,” BASA said.
The imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma earlier this month sparked the unrest, which degenerated into widespread looting and vandalism in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.
According to BASA, the unrest led to the destruction of 1,223 ATMs and 269 bank branches. It however assured customers that there is no shortage of cash in the affected areas.
“As safety and security is restored in affected areas, ATMs are being rebuilt and replaced and financial networks repaired. Already, ATMs and branches in many places have been repaired and restored to full service,” the Association said.
Banks have also started offering targeted financial relief to affected customers. On Monday, First National Bank (FNB) announced a range of measures such as instalment payment break/relief, expedited claims for FNB credit life customers, and a waive of early withdrawal and unpaid debit order fees for a set period.
“One of the measures under consideration is the provision of bridging finance while insurance claims are processed by the South African Special Risk Insurance Association (SASRIA), which is responsible for insuring against social and political unrest,” BASA added.
However, it cautioned that on their own, such relief measures are inadequate to assist businesses “in a weak economic environment.
“It is far more critical that businesses have access to efficient public infrastructure like power and transport, that policies are clear and not subject to arbitrary change, and that excessive red-tape hampering entrepreneurs falls away,” the Association explained.
“Attractive, long-term incentives are necessary to secure investment in commercially sustainable economic and social infrastructure. Above all, businesses need confidence in continuing social stability and rule of law.”
It expressed hope that the recent unrest would “galvanise” the government into acting on these imperatives.