Banks are still the easiest way to access the COVID-19 R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant payments, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has told beneficiaries.
Speaking during a media briefing on Friday, Zulu said, “Payment through a bank account is still the easiest way to access your money, and I want to strongly urge everyone who is struggling with their payment to either provide SASSA with a mobile number which is RICA’d in their name or with their bank account.”
65,700 new applications since extension
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a three-month SRD grant extension in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) earlier this month, sparking thousands of new applications.
“Since then, a total of 65,795 new applications have been received. The 9.7 million that have already applied will continue to be reassessed monthly, and qualifying applicants will continue to be paid,” Zulu said.
The government has paid around R17 billion in SRD grants since it introduced the relief in April 2020 to cushion the society’s vulnerable from the pandemic’s impact.
About 6 million beneficiaries receive the grant monthly and by the end of the extended period, the government will have spent R22 billion on the grant, the Minister said.
“It is also encouraging to note that 42,329 clients have voluntarily cancelled their grants, as their situation has improved to the extent that they no longer rely on this grant,” she added.
Overcrowding at post offices
Overcrowding at post offices nevertheless remains a challenge, with over 70 percent – or 4.2 million beneficiaries – receiving their grants via this method. The SA Post Office (SAPO), SASSA and Social Development Department have deployed volunteers to manage the long queues at post offices.
SAPO has also scheduled appointments for beneficiaries to present themselves on specific dates and has used alternative public facilities such as municipal halls for payments.
It has also introduced a system for staggering payment dates based on the last three digits of the beneficiaries’ ID numbers, Minister Zulu explained.
Meanwhile, SASSA announced on Thursday that the deadline for applicants to appeal their declined applications for the period between November 2020 and January 2021 is Sunday, 28 February 2021.