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Lockdown toolkit: How those in need can access Sassa food parcels

Social relief of distress exists as a temporary provision of assistance intended for persons in such a dire material need that they are unable to meet their families’ most basic needs.

A South African Social Security Agency office in Pretoria. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Government is extending a helping hand to the most vulnerable during the 21-day lockdown through the South African Social Security Agency's (Sassa) social relief of distress programme.

Social relief of distress exists as a temporary provision of assistance intended for persons in such a dire material need that they are unable to meet their families’ most basic needs.

Here's how it works.

Social Relief of Distress is paid to South African citizens or permanent residents, who have insufficient means and meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • you need help while you wait for your children’s grants to be processed;

  • a crisis or disaster has occurred;

  • you do not qualify for a grant, and you are in a desperate situation;

  • you are unable to work for a period of fewer than six months because you are medically unfit;

  • you are unable to get maintenance from the other parent of your child or children;

  • the breadwinner in the family has died;

  • the breadwinner has been sent to prison for a short time (less than six months); and

  • you have been affected by a disaster, but the area or community in which you live has not been declared a disaster area.

What do you get?

The Social Relief of Distress may be in the form of a food parcel or a voucher to buy food. Some provinces give this assistance in the form of cash. Social Relief of Distress is given for a short time only – usually for up to three months, which may be extended for another three months.

What you should do

  • Apply for social relief of distress at your nearest South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) office or call 0800 6010 11

  • Submit your application with the following documents:

  • your 13-digit bar-coded identity document and your children’s birth certificates.

(If your identity document and/or a birth certificate are not available: an affidavit commissioned by a Justice of the Peace. The affidavit must contain a clause which indicates that provision of incorrect or inaccurate information will result in prosecution in terms of Section 21 of the Social Assistance Act, 2004; a sworn statement by a reputable person who knows the applicant and the child. This may be from a councillor, traditional leader, social worker or minister of religion; proof that an application for a birth certificate or identity document has been lodged with the Department of Home Affairs; where applicable, a temporary identity document issued by the Department of Home Affairs; a baptismal certificate; a road to health clinic card; or a school report.

  • Please note: No application can be processed without the sworn statement/affidavit.

  • If you do not have an identity document and birth certificates, an affidavit from your local police station, chief, councillor or religious leader may be enough proof.

Show proof that you:

  • have applied for a grant

  • have had an emergency (e.g. provide a police report that your house burnt down)

  • have tried to get maintenance

  • have no other support

  • are married, divorced, or single

  • have no income

  • have a short-term medical disability.

How long does it take?

  • Your application will be processed immediately.

  • Once your application is submitted, it will be assessed for credibility and your genuine need for the service.

  • Even if you do not have all the documents, you will get your first month’s food parcel, voucher or cash.

  • Remember to take all the documents to the officer before the second month’s payment is due. If you do not, you may not get your second and third month’s food parcel, voucher or cash.

  • If there is no change in your circumstances after you have received the grant for three months, you may apply to have the grant extended for another three months.

How much does it cost?

The service is free.

Forms to complete

The application form is not available online, but you can get it at your nearest Sassa office.

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