Local Sassa offices reopen, launch electronic application platform
After being inundated with applications for the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant, Sassa says it's going digital.
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will, on Monday, reopen its offices in an attempt to clear the overwhelming backlog of grant applications and assist the country’s most vulnerable.
The Department of Social Development (DSD) confirmed that Sassa offices, which have been closed since the start of lockdown in late March, would reopen with a risk adjusted approach. The renewed strategy comes in the wake of fierce socioeconomic distress as a result of the nationwide lockdown.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, who is expected to brief the nation on the department’s response to COVID-19 on Monday morning, recently revealed that applications for the unique Social Relief of Distress Grant had overwhelmed Sassa’s systems. As a result, applications have been opened to email.
In addition, Sassa has begun trials with SMS and WhatsApp submissions. The vetting process — to determine whether applicants truly qualify for the grant — has proven to be a major stumbling block. The department, however, believes that it has managed to overcome earlier hurdles in time for the proposed launch date.
Long queues, tech glitches and limited social distancing
The DSD’s latest turnaround comes after a particularly disruptive payment period earlier in May. In addition to technical glitches which marred the grant payment process, beneficiaries complained of long queues and limited social distancing protocols.
The opening of local Sassa offices, which will be overseen by volunteers and DSD community workers, seeks to register beneficiaries on the payment system via an electronic method. According to the DSD:
“Once applications are approved, SASSA will request confirmation of banks accounts through a secure site – this will also be done electronically.
Payment will be effected through deposits made directly into an approved applicant’s bank account if they have one. Applicants without bank accounts can also apply and their payment will be effected through a money transfer.”
Sassa payments: Electronic platform
This new digital application system is expected to be launched on Monday, coinciding with the reopening of local Sassa offices. The DSD confirmed that only a third of Sassa staff would return to work to assist applicants. Furthermore, in order to limit crowds, offices will only deal with specific grants on certain days, as follows:
- Monday and Tuesday: Old Age Grants
- Wednesday and Thursday: Child Support Grants and Foster Care Grants
- Friday: Administration for staff to attend to matters that flow over from previous days
Minister Zulu is expected to officially launch the new electronic platform, during a media briefing, at 10:00 on Monday morning.
To obtain the electronic form, applicants can e-mail SRD@sassa.gov.za.