Sassa confident newly developed COVID-19 grant system will work

Sassa's Shivani Wahab said they expect the process – from application to approval – to take between two to three working days.

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

CAPE TOWN – The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is confident the system it's built to manage applications for the special COVID-19 grant will work out.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last week announced the introduction of a new coronavirus relief grant of R350 a month, which will be available to those in need for the next six months.

The special grant will go to South Africans who are unemployed and do not receive any other social grant or Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payment.

The agency has set up a WhatsApp line and an email account, which will go live next week, for South Africans to start applying for the Social Relief of Distress grant.

Payments are, however, only expected to be made from 15 May.

An applicant would need a banking account, and if they do not have one, the agency is looking at the option of money transfers via cellphone.

Sassa’s Shivani Wahab said to be eligible for the grant, individuals need to be unemployed and a permanent South African resident.

A refugee can apply if he or she is registered on the Home Affairs system.

The applicant must be over 18 and the request will not be granted if the applicant receives any other financial assistance from government.

Wahab said they expect the process – from application to approval – to take between two to three working days.

“What I want the public to understand is that once the application is lodged, Sassa has to verify the information against our own system – and our system is also interfaced with other government departments – just to insure that you do qualify.”

Many SASSA offices were closed during level five lockdown. But Wahab said their contact points will start re-opening their doors from Monday, with staff working on a rotational basis.