Over 328,000 beneficiaries of the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant have not yet collected it from the first cycle – and the figure rises to 442,000 in the second cycle.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu revealed this in a recent parliamentary reply. EFF MP Rosina Ntshetsana Komane had asked Zulu to provide statistics of those who haven’t claimed the grant and measures the government will take to ensure they access it.
Unclaimed first cycle grants to be paid
“According to the reconciliation received from the SA Post Office, (SAPO) a total of 328,477 beneficiaries have yet to collect their grant from the first cycle which ended on 30 April 2021 and 442,602 from the second cycle which covers the period from August 2021 to March 2022,” Zulu said in her reply.
“Approval has recently been provided to SAPO, in line with the Directions published on 10 February 2022, for beneficiaries from the first cycle to be paid their funds, should they report to the Post Office.”
Last year, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) published a list of applicants who had not claimed their first cycle grants, urging them to claim them or forfeit them to the state for use in other programmes. The list is still available online.
SASSA set an initial deadline of 31 August 2021 before extending it to 30 November 2021. The Minister’s reply does not clarify whether the deadline falls away or not.
Spar, mobile phone payment channels coming
Zulu said current payment channels of the SRD grant include bank ATMs (with beneficiaries receiving payments into their bank accounts), SAPO, Pick n Pay and Boxer stores, and Shoprite, Usave and Checkers stores.
“Negotiations with the Spar group to also allow access to the relief grant are at an advanced stage and further announcements will be made shortly. SASSA is also finalising the contracting with banks, to allow for the payment to be made to mobile phones. This channel will be available for the extension of the grant from April 2022 to March 2023,” she added.
The Minister said that of the 10,563,123 approved beneficiaries, 42 percent collect their grants through SAPO while 58 percent receive it in their personal bank accounts.
“These channels have all contributed to the significant improvement in reducing the queues at post offices, and provide a range of options for approved beneficiaries to be able to access their grants conveniently,” she concluded.
In February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a one-year extension of the R350 grant until March 2023, with talk of “some form of assistance” being provided to the unemployed once this period ends.
Various groups, including labour federation COSATU and the SA Communist Party, have called for a basic income grant to succeed the SRD grant. The government has however remained noncommittal so far.