NATIONAL NEWS - Since it’s announcement, the R350 Covid-19 social relief of distress grant has been top of mind for many a South African who finds him- or herself in dire financial straits due to the national lockdown.
Information regarding who qualifies to receive the grant as well as how they can go about applying for it has been doing the rounds on social media and messaging apps but Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has cautioned against taking the info in these messages at face value.
Speaking during a briefing to update the public on the department’s socioeconomic relief interventions during the lockdown, Zulu outlined who qualifies for the grant as well as how they can apply.
Successful applicants will be paid an amount of R350 per month over a period of six months from May to October 2020.
“The special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant will be implemented in terms of the existing avenue provided for by the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) channel, which is administered in accordance with the provisions as set in the Social Assistance Act, 2004.
"In terms of Regulation 9 (6), social relief may be provided to South African citizens, permanent residents and refugees who have been affected by a disaster,” said Zulu.
Because this framework is currently administered through the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), the organisation was required to make adjustments to the system to increase the amount for existing beneficiaries for the next six months.
Zulu cautioned, however, that the new special Covid-19 SRD grant requires “a rather more complex approach,” because most of the beneficiaries of this specific grant are not on the Sassa database or that of other government grant support programmes.
“It was, therefore, necessary to introduce new systems and new qualification criteria, and amend some regulations.”
The grant will be available to South African citizens, permanent residents or refugees registered on the Home Affairs system who are residents within the borders of the Republic of South Africa.
The qualifying criteria for the special Covid-19 SRD for distressed individuals are as follows.
Applicants must be:
– Above the age of 18
– Not receiving any income
– Not receiving any social grant
– Not receiving any unemployment insurance benefit and does not qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits
– Not receiving a stipend from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme
– Not resident in a government-funded or subsidised institution
Prospective Applicants will need to provide the following compulsory information for the processing of their applications:
– Identity number/department of home affairs permit
– Name, surname (and initials) as captured in the ID
– Gender and disability status
– Banking details: bank name and account number
– Contact details: cellphone number
– Proof of residential address
Applications for the SRD grant may be lodged electronically over and above any other available means of lodging such applications.
The measures applicable include sending a WhatsApp message to 0600 123 456 and selecting “Sassa” or sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
“We are still finalising additional access channels and including SMS, self-help desks and online application process. We will give information on these soon,” added Zulu.
In order to serve people with no access to technology, volunteers will be trained to assist applicants who cannot use technology and will be provided with gadgets to capture details on behalf of applicants.
“We have already received commitments from the NYDA, NDA and community development workers in some of the provinces to assist. Sassa in these provinces will further unpack this in consultation with provincial structures and civil society organisations.”
Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by the same way in which the application was made.
“In terms of payment, this will be made mainly through bank accounts of the applicants and through cash send measures through banks. The grant will be paid from the date of approval up to the end of October 2020 provided the qualifying criteria listed continues to be met. So if applicants apply in June their payments will be from June and there will be no backpay.”
The department reminds applicants that by virtue of application, they grant Sassa consent to verify their residency, sources of income and/or social security benefits with government departments and financial institutions; including all identification documents and permits will be cross-checked against other data sources.
False applications will give rise to possible prosecution.