Picture: Danie van der Lith/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Danie van der Lith/African News Agency (ANA)

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

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published May 30, 2020

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Johannesburg - The South African Social Security Agency is hoping to reach a 100 000 mark in the payment of the R350 Covid-19 social relief of distress grant to the unemployed people at the weekend.

President Cyril Ramaphosa previously announced R50 billion to relieve the desperately affected people by the coronavirus. 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 the increase of child support grant beneficiaries would receive an additional R300 in May and from June to October R500 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 a record 13 million applications for the new grant. 

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

"The numbers have improved significantly this week because the numbers from SARS the number of people approved are 666 381," Memela-Khambula said.

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

A presentation made to the MPs showed that the verification of.application was done by 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 number and bank account before payments were made.

Sassa was still awaiting the banking details of 666 381  already approved applicants. There were 64930 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.

Memela-Khambula told the MPs that this week two bulk payments were made this week.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Development has distributed 523 490 food parcels and reached more than 2 million people.

Deputy director general Peter Netshipale said there were 788283 food parcels distributed working with other stakeholders such as Solidarity Fun through non-profit organizations; Sassa and the department, and reaching out to 3.1m people.

Netshipale said a total of R111m has been spent on food parcels with R63m spent by the national department and R48m 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 Statistic 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 hotspots for food insecurity in the North West, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape.  There were also informal settlements identified in KwaZulu-Natal, 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 added.

Political Bureau

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za 

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