Applications for the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant will open on Monday, May 11, the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) announced late on Saturday.
The criteria for the application were gazetted later on Saturday to enable implementation and allow millions of deserving members of the public to access the grant.
Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Social Development, will present a comprehensive report on the matter to the National Coordinating Council today Sunday, May 10.
WhatsApp and related electronic application options will go live on Monday, and this will be demonstrated during a media launch to be addressed by Minister Zulu.
In the process of developing the required technology, a new number has been secured for applications and the Minister will detail how it will work, Sassa said in a statement.
The temporary COVID-19 grant is for the unemployed over the age of 18, who are receiving no other form of government assistance, including from the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
“Applicants are cautioned not to provide their banking details to anyone to avoid scams,” Sassa warned.
The organisation will only request banking details once the application has been approved. SASSA also warned people not to give their PIN or CVV number to anyone.
“Once applications are approved, SASSA will request confirmation of bank accounts though a secure site – this will also be done electronically. Applicants have the right to request confirmation that a request is from SASSA in order to protect themselves,” said Sassa.
“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.”
A WhatsApp platform of the Health department was used in the initial test, and 15 000 applications were loaded onto the system.
“All qualifying applications received during the test phase will be processed by May 15 2020,” said Sassa.
“Applicants without smartphones will also be able to access this new platform through a Short Message Service (SMS) using the Unstructured Supplementary Data Service (USSD). Volunteers and community development workers will be deployed to assist those who have no access to technology with applications. Manual applications will not be done at SASSA offices at all and there will be no need to fill in paper application forms.”
Sassa said it has been rightfully inundated with enquiries from the public about the process of application and the public must be thanked for its patience during these difficult times.
The organisation said it had to ensure that it puts all the required controls in place to ensure that deserving and qualifying individuals only access the grant.
“There was also a need to ensure that these issues are contained in a legal document in the form of a Government Gazette. In the process of developing the required technology, a new number has been secured for applications and the Minister will detail how it will work”