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SASSA adds more online channels for R350 social relief grant

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The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) says applications for the R350 social relief grant can be submitted via two more online channels.

This comes after “excessive traffic” slowed down the agency’s website and WhatsApp application line for the special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, leaving some applicants frustrated with the process.

In a statement, SASSA says applications can also be channelled via GovChat on https://govchat.app/login or Facebook Messenger on https://www.facebook.com/govchat.org.

Speaking to the heavy web traffic flows, SASSA CEO Busisiwe Memela-Khambula says: “This is a clear indication of the huge need for food aid, among others, from distressed inhabitants of the country, and therefore the president couldn’t have reinstated this grant at a better time.”

SASSA is an entity of the Department of Social Development, which is responsible for administering social assistance in terms of section three of the Social Assistance Act.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll, president Cyril Ramaphosa last month confirmed the SDR grant will be reinstated for a period from August until 31 March 2022.

Government initially introduced the grant last year as a way to cushion South Africa’s poorest and distressed citizens from the financial burden brought on by the pandemic. In terms of the grant, unemployed persons receive R350 per month.

Last week, social development minister Lindiwe Zulu confirmed SRD grant applications will open on 6 August, saying all applications will be done electronically/digitally.

At the time, Zulu indicated that applications could be submitted through the website, WhatsApp on 082 046 8553 or unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) line on *134*7737#.

According to SASSA, applications opened at 9am, and within 45 minutes, the utilisation of the server hosting the website was above 95%.

“This resulted in the website slowing down dramatically, which necessitated us to use our disaster recovery sites and add more channels for application immediately. Our technicians are on high alert and will monitor the impact of these interventions in order to continuously improve the application experience for our clients,” explains Memela-Khambula.

The agency further reveals the USSD line will be added to the existing application channels this week. “The construction of this channel is at an advanced stage and it will help people without smartphones to also be able to apply effortlessly. Further announcements will be made in due course.”

Adds SASSA: “Anyone still experiencing technical difficulties with WhatsApp or the website is reminded that they still have the whole month of August to apply in order to receive their August payments. Our technicians are working tirelessly to stabilise the system. We appeal to all affected applicants to please exercise patience.”

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