The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has brought forward the payment of social grants for the elderly and persons with disabilities for the month of April in an effort to lower the risk of Covid-19 infection by reducing congestion at retailers and banks.
In a statement, Sassa said it had been inundated with concerns about grant payments for April in light of the Covid-19 infections in the country.
The number of Covid-19 infections in South Africa was at 240 on Saturday afternoon. The virus is reportedly particularly harmful to the elderly.
Sassa said it had decided to bring forward the payment of April’s grants by two days, from 1 April to 30 March. All other grants, like child support grants, should be collected from 1 April, the agency said.
“It is important to stress that payments on the first two days will be for the elderly and people living with disabilities. This emphasis on prioritising the older persons and disability grants is an effort to ease congestion at retailers and bank infrastructure to help minimise the risk of infection.”
Beneficiaries who normally collect their grants at cash pay points, will be able to do so from Friday, 3 April, according to the different dates communicated to them in the previous payment cycle.
“Once the money is in the account, it will remain available for the beneficiary to access anytime and anywhere, as and when required. There is no need to withdraw all the money at once,” the agency said.
“Beneficiaries are also encouraged to swipe their cards to pay for purchases, rather than withdraw cash.”
Sassa will also introduce measures to increase hygiene at cash pay points and ensure that social distancing protocols are followed, it said.
“Sassa will ensure that the number of clients being serviced at any one time does not exceed the national set number of 100 people. Social grant beneficiaries are encouraged to avoid areas where large numbers of people are gathered for their personal safety.”
The agency said beneficiaries at pay points and post offices will be provided with hand sanitisers to help prevent Covid-19 infections. All necessary measures will be put in place to ensure that social distancing is adhered to, it added.
“Additional cash dispensers will be availed to ensure that there is no overcrowding around one or two dispensers at cash pay points and post offices. This will increase the speed of serving clients to ensure that there is full compliance with the provisions of the Disaster Management Act 2002 as amended,” the agency said.