Home South African R350 Covid-19 social relief: Sassa aims to pay over 100 000 grants

R350 Covid-19 social relief: Sassa aims to pay over 100 000 grants

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CEO says Sassa had processed 37 777 payments, while 64 930 applications were in the payment process of bank account verification

File picture: Danie van der Lith

THE SA Social Security Agency is hoping to reach the 100 000 mark in the payment of the R350 Covid-19 social relief of distress grant to unemployed people at the weekend.

President Cyril Ramaphosa previously announced that R50 billion would be available to relieve citizens desperately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Ramaphosa said a special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant of R350 a month for the next six months would be paid to individuals who were unemployed and did not receive social grants or UIF payment.

Ramaphosa also announced that child support grant beneficiaries would receive an additional R300 in May and from June to October they would receive an additional R500 a month, while other grants would be topped up with R250.

Briefing a joint meeting of parliamentary committees on Friday, Sassa chief executive officer Busisiwe Memela-Khambula said they received 13 million applications for the new grant. 

Memela-Khambula said that of the total applications, 6.3 million applications were valid and at least 3.5 million have been verified. She stated that out of those verified, 1.5 million applicants were declined because they have other means of income.

There have been delays in making the R350 grant payments amid 240 000 applications being received a day.

A presentation made to the MPs showed that the verification of application was done by the SA Revenue Service (Sars). Once approved, applicants were notified and required to upload their banking details or indicate where they would prefer to receive e-money vouchers. This was followed by verification of the applicants’ cellphone numbers and bank accounts before payments were made.

Sassa was still awaiting the banking details of 666 381 already approved applicants. There were 64 930 in the payment process of bank account verification. More than 1.2 million applications were waiting for verification from Sars. Payments have been made to 37 777 applicants who have provided their banking information and had their banking details or cellphone numbers approved.

Memela-Khambula said the applications for the R350 Covid-19 grant had proven to be a slow start.

“It is getting there. It has been painful but we are getting there,” she said.

She told the MPs that two bulk payments were made this week.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Development has distributed 523 490 food parcels and reached more than two million people.

Deputy director general Peter Netshipale said there were 788 283 food parcels distributed, working in conjunction with other stakeholders such as non-profit organisations and Sassa, and reaching out to 3.1 million people.

Netshipale said a total of R111 million has been spent on food parcels with R63 million spent by the national department and R48 million in provinces. 

He said there has been evidence suggesting high incidences of food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition. This has been largely attributed and associated with growing poverty and unemployment levels.

“Food security has become a national crisis with some suggesting that roughly 50% of our population is food insecure. According to Statistics South Africa, loss of income resulting from Covid-19 may lead to higher levels of food insecurity in South Africa,” Netshipale said.

He said they have identified hot spots for food insecurity in the Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape. There were also informal settlements identified in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng.

“The Department of Social Development provided food to poor and vulnerable groups to combat the growing challenge of hunger and malnutrition which have been exacerbated by Covid-19,” Netshipale said.