Johannesburg – Millions of jobless South Africans will learn today if they qualify to receive the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu is set to announce requirements for the R350 President Cyril Ramaphosa last month declared would be paid out to the unemployed.
Zulu’s imminent announcement comes as some individuals and organisations have indicated their mixed views about the grants – particularly those that concern the child and foster care recipients.
Black Sash has already expressed concern about the department and the SA Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) presentation to Parliament’s portfolio committee on social development that the R500 increase in child support grants is per caregiver and not per child.
Zulu is expected to clarify the categories of unemployed people – including the documented caregivers on whether they also qualify for the R350 unemployment grant or not.
Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsasi said the systems for the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant announced by Ramaphosa recently had passed the final stage of development.
He said Zulu would launch the opening of the application process today after gazetting it with the view of implementing it to allow the millions of deserving members of the public to access the grant.
“The WhatsApp and related electronic application options will go live on Monday and this will be demonstrated during a media launch to be addressed by Minister Zulu.
“Sassa has been rightfully inundated with enquiries from the public about the process of application and the public must be thanked for its patience during these difficult times,” Letsatsi said.
He stated Sassa had to ensure that it placed all the required controls in place to ensure that the grant “is only accessed by deserving and qualifying individuals”.
“There was also a need to ensure that these issues are contained in a legal document in the form of a government gazette. In the process of developing the required technology, a new number has been secured for applications and the minister will detail how it will work,” Letsatsi added.
He said a WhatsApp platform of the Health Department was used in the initial test and 15000 applications were loaded on to the system saying all qualifying applications received during the test phase would be processed on Friday.
“Applicants without smartphones will also be able to access this new platform through an SMS using the Unstructured Supplementary Data Service (USSD).
“Volunteers and community development workers will be deployed to assist those who have no access to technology with applications. Manual applications will not be done at Sassa offices at all and there will be no need to fill in paper application forms,” he said.
According to Letsatsi, electronic payments would be made to beneficiaries going forward as this meets the law of social distancing as set down in the State of Disaster Management Act.
He said another consideration was the speed at which online applications will be taken and processed as opposed to using a manual system.
“Applicants are cautioned not to provide their banking details to anyone, to avoid scams. Sassa will only request information once the application has been approved. All beneficiaries and applicants should never give their PIN number or the CVV number on the back of the banking card to anyone – not even Sassa. Once applications are approved, Sassa will request confirmation of bank accounts through a secure site – this will also be done electronically,” Letsatsi said.
Payments will be deposited in the bank accounts of successful applicants.
The launch also coincides with the staggered opening of Sassa offices today in which priority would be to deal with grants for old age people today and tomorrow.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Sassa officials will deal with child and foster grants recipients.
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** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government’s 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.
By Baldwin Ndaba