Sassa to launch Covid-19 relief grant application process on Monday

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Systems for the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa have passed the final stage of development and the requirements for qualification are expected to be announced on Monday.

The Department of Social Development (DSD), the National Development Agency (NDA) and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will announce their readiness for implementation when Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu launches the opening of the application process.

Zulu earlier announced that a R350 grant to help unemployed people not receiving any form of subsidy or grant during the Covid-19 pandemic would be paid from May to October. It will be open to South Africans, refugees and permanent residents already in the Department of Home Affairs' system and those residing within the borders of South Africa.

According to Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi, the criteria for application were gazetted at the weekend in order to enable implementation and allow millions to access the grant.

The WhatsApp and related electronic application options will also go live on Monday and this will be demonstrated at a media launch to be addressed by Zulu.

"Sassa has been 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. "Sassa had to ensure that... the grant is only accessed by deserving and qualifying individuals."

Letsatsi added that a WhatsApp platform of the health department was used in the initial test and 15 000 applications were loaded on to the system.

Electronic platforms to be used

"All qualifying applications received during the test phase will be processed by 15 May. Applicants without smartphones will also be able to access this new platform through an SMS.

"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.

"The platform that will be used is going to be an electronic one due to the need to comply with the State of Disaster requirements of social distancing. Another consideration was the speed at which online applications can be taken and processed as opposed to using a manual system."

Sassa cautioned applicants not to provide their banking details to anyone to avoid scams.

Read: SA beyond Covid-19: How it will shape the future, according to scientists, economists and political minds

"Sassa will only request information once the application has been approved," Letsatsi cautioned.

"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 though a secure site – this will also be done electronically.

"Applicants have the right to request confirmation that a request is from Sassa in order to protect themselves. Payment will be effected through deposits made directly into an approved applicant's bank account if they have one.

"Applicants without bank accounts can also apply and their payment will be effected through a money transfer."

Letsatsi said Sassa reserved the right to validate the information provided by applicants with other public and private databases to prevent misrepresentation and potential fraud.

Reopening of Sassa local offices

The launch date coincides with the reopening of Sassa's local offices on Monday.

"Only a third of employees will return to work and, therefore, Sassa services on offer will be limited to ensure social distancing and general compliance with the law."

In order to do this, Sassa's local offices will be attending to specific grants on specific days only.

- Monday and Tuesday: Grants for older persons (old-age grants);

- Wednesday and Thursday: Child support grants and foster child grants;

- Friday: Administration for staff to attend to matters that flow over from the previous days.

"Under lockdown Level 4, no disability grants, care dependency grants or grant in aid applications will be done, as the access to health facilities is restricted to emergency cases and Covid-19 cases only," Letsatsi said.

This means that no medical assessments, which is a legislated requirement prior to an application for these grant types, can be undertaken.

Zulu will also clarify how Sassa is going to deal with lapsed temporary disability grants. "Lapsed care dependency grants will also be clarified in line with the Government Gazette which the minister will simplify for the public."

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