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Applications for govt’s R350 social relief grant strictly online

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The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) will open online applications for government’s special COVID-19 grant on 6 August, with first payments expected to be made in the last week of August.

This was the announcement from social development minister, Lindiwe Zulu, detailing the application process for the reinstated special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant.

Zulu emphasises that COVID-19 is still very much a reality; therefore, SASSA will continue with measures to limit face-to-face interactions and manage social distancing.

As a result: “All applications will, therefore, be again done electronically/digitally,” she states.

The minister has encouraged citizens to submit their applications for the special social relief grant via the website portal, through the WhatsApp line on 082 046 8553, or on the USSD line available on *134*7737#.

“An application should be submitted through only one of the above channels – it is not necessary to submit multiple applications. Confirmation will be received as soon as the application has been successfully submitted.

“We encourage all applicants to conclude their applications when they start making the applications to avoid any technical challenges.”

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.

The first iteration of the grant ran from May 2020 to April 2021, with nearly 10 million applications received during this time, says Zulu.

Over six million applications were approved for payment to the tune of R24 billion, and an additional R15 billion was paid as top-ups for a period of six months to all grant types.

The minister explains that only those who meet the criteria and have no financial support from any source should apply for this grant, adding that all those who had previously applied must re-apply in order to assess their eligibility.

“All applications will be treated as new applications every month,” she says. “However, each applicant need only apply once – thereafter, the application will be considered monthly.”

She adds: “There will be no retrospective payments for the months the grant was not in existence – from May to July 2021. The new application will only be effective from August 2021. The applications shall be considered from the month of application and paid up to 31 March 2022, provided the qualifying criteria continue to be met.”

Meanwhile, big-four bank Standard Bank on Wednesday announced it will deploy 11 mobile automated teller machines (ATMs) to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

This move, says Standard Bank, forms part of a collective response from banks to assist and streamline the SASSA payment process in KZN.

During the recent looting and violent riots that took place in KZN and Gauteng, bank ATMs were vandalised and transport routes were disrupted.

In conjunction with other banks and SASSA, mobile ATM units have been deployed to provide services closer to where the immediate needs of communities are.

Kabelo Makeke, head of consumer and high net worth clients at Standard Bank SA, says: “The disruptions caused recently in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have made it harder for vulnerable and dependent members of our society to have access to their grant payments.”

To further ease the potential access burden, Standard Bank permanently removed Saswitch fees for all its customers. Standard Bank customers can withdraw cash from any ATM in the industry for a flat fee of R10 per R1 000 drawn value.

“We believe that this is a longer-term solution to cater for the needs of our society, as well as make it more convenient for our clients to access financial services,” says Makeke.

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