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Sassa urges beneficiaries to stagger collecting grants

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“Beneficiaries are advised to avoid collecting their grants on the first day of payment due to the high pedestrian traffic at shopping malls and other outlets, which is a health risk during this period.”

THE SOUTH African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has advised social grant beneficiaries to avoid collecting their grants on the first day of payment as the country fights against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Beneficiaries are requested to avoid collecting their grants on the first day of payment due to the high pedestrian traffic at shopping malls and other outlets. Once Sassa has paid money into a beneficiary’s account, the money will stay there and can be accessed at any day of the month instead of taking a health risk of visiting an outlet on the first day of the month,” Sassa said in a statement.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on Sunday following the coronavirus outbreak in the country. The president also announced a number of interventions to curb the spread of Covid-19, including amongst others a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people.

Sassa said it was heeding the president’s call and taking a number of precautionary measures.

These include drawing money on first payment day. “Beneficiaries are advised to avoid collecting their grants on the first day of payment due to the high pedestrian traffic at shopping malls and other outlets, which is a health risk during this period.”

Outreach programmes have also been suspended, including Integrated Community Registration Outreach Programmes (ICROP), with immediate effect as most outreach programmes are attended by more than 100 people, including children and the elderly.

Home, clinic and hospital visits by Sassa officials are suspended with immediate effect.

“Where a client is above 75 years of age and is bedridden and unable to report to a Sassa office, an application process can be completed under section 15 and Regulation 10 (1) of the Social Assistance Act, 2004 to have a procurator or proxy apply on behalf of the affected client. The chosen procurator must be appointed in writing and produce that letter together with all their documents including identity card so that the application can be processed. The application will follow normal process,” Sassa explained.

Local office managers will also be required to ensure that the allowed number per day rule is adhered to so that no more than 100 people are served at a time. The number will depend on the size of the waiting area.

Ventilation

“The number allowed in must make provision for a space between clients and adequate ventilation.”

In addition, both Sassa and the South African Post Office (Sapo) have put up notices at entrances of their offices advising the public that access to the premises will be limited to less than 100 persons at any given point.

Clients have also been advised not to report to local offices for simple enquiries, but to rather call Sassa and Sapo on their toll-free customer care numbers.

“We also encourage them to utilise our social media platforms. All the above mentioned channels will be monitored closely so as to give our clients the best service they require,” the agency said.

In terms of managing numbers at cash pay points, the organisation, together with Sapo, will ensure that the number of clients being serviced at a time does not exceed the national set number of 100 people.

Priority will be given to the elderly, frail, people with disabilities, mothers with children and pregnant women.

All staff dealing directly with clients will be supplied with all the necessary protective kit to ensure that their health is safeguarded.

“Additional cash dispensers will be used to ensure that there is no overcrowding around one or two dispensers at cash pay points and post offices. This will increase the speed of serving clients to ensure that they do not spend a long time at payment facilities,” Sassa said.

Hand sanitisers are available at all post office doors for clients to use before entering the premises.

Meanwhile, Sassa said all its offices that were not operational while awaiting protection kits are and will remain open. “Protective kits are being delivered in batches to all Sassa offices.”