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Electronic channels open for govt’s R350 social relief grant

Read time 3min 20sec
WhatsApp applications for social relief grant open.
WhatsApp applications for social relief grant open.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) and SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) application system for the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant is now live.

Qualifying applicants can now upload their applications for access to the grant via WhatsApp, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), e-mail and a special portal on the SASSA Web site.

The launch follows a pilot of the application system conducted by SASSA last month, which saw 91 000 applications via the popular social messaging app.

The nation-wide lockdown has been a financially challenging time for many South Africans and their households. Government has decided to set up a COVID-19 grant, to financially support unemployed individuals.

The Social Relief of Distress Grant, which will see unemployed persons receive R350 for six months, starting in May to October, is the latest government relief measure.

Speaking at a media briefing this morning, SASSA CEO Busisiwe Memela-Khambula said to make sure the service is efficient and effective, it was decided to use a technology-based application system.

This will include areas that are far-flung, stated Memela-Khambula, adding the agency will have people, with the support of National Development Agency, who will go to those areas and offer assistance.

“We will remain vigilant towards those people that will be trying to defraud the system, as we continue to have a situation where even our current grant recipients continue to be defrauded.

“The manner in which citizens can apply for this grant will be via a WhatsApp line on 082 046 8553. Because we know that not everybody has a smartphone, we have a USSD line available on *134*7737#. The e-mail address will continue to exist, which was already in existence at srd@sassa.gov.za. That’s the process we are going to use.”

According to Memela-Khambula, of the 91 000 applications that were submitted during the pilot, 11 000 are already recipients of social grants. Out of the 250 000 e-mail applications, 50% already receive social grants.

As a result, the SASSA CEO pleaded with those that don’t qualify not to apply, as all they do is clog the system.

To qualify for the COVID-19 SRD grant, the CEO revealed the key people that will be able to apply are those that are above 18 years old. “It should be people that are unemployed, those that are not receiving any income and not receiving any grant.

“In instances where people are employed, we are going to take the entire database that we have and run it through SARS that will check whether those people are unemployed.

“Prospective applicants will have to provide compulsory information, submitted electronically, such as ID number, name and surname as in identity document, gender and disability, banking details, bank name and account number, contact details – cellphone number. There is no need for proof of residential address but submission of the actual address for verification.”

DSD minister Lindiwe Zulu also appealed for patience. “I want to appeal to our people; we know that hunger is a big problem out there and people want to be assisted as in yesterday. We must exercise some bit of patience because we know that the system is going to be overloaded but we have done our best to make sure the system does not get clogged.

“Let’s navigate this together; let’s work with each other because this is the first time we are finding ourselves under such stress and strain worldwide.

“I can assure you that on our side, we will do the best that we can.”

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