Two pensioners died on the first day of social grant payments on Monday under the 21-day lockdown in Pimville, Soweto, and Hammersdale in KwaZulu-Natal.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said she was saddened to learn about the deaths.
“I express my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the departed. Both of them were confirmed to be social grant beneficiaries at the time of their passing and I have instructed Sassa to process their payments without any delays.”
Zulu has directed social workers to provide psycho-social support services to their families.
She appealed to social grant beneficiaries to comply with the lockdown regulations by using their Sassa and post office cards at local retailers to avoid long queues.
Apart from the two deaths, Zulu claimed the first day of the two days set aside to pay social grants to the elderly and people with disabilities got off to a smooth start.
“The payment of social grants highlights the importance of providing safety nets for the poor and vulnerable, particularly amid what has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
“Without social grants, over 12 million vulnerable people, who are currently on the social assistance programme, will have no safety net to mitigate the negative socio-economic impact of Covid-19.”
At around 16.00pm on Monday, Zulu said, about R 3.7 billion had been processed through Sassa and post office cards.
“In addition, 3.1 million beneficiaries were paid through various commercial banks. The large transactions took place despite minor glitches reported in some areas.
“These include long queues, overcrowding and failure to comply with social distancing and hygiene guidelines at some pay outlets. There were also reported cases of depletion of cash at some post office outlets due to a higher than normal number of people.
“It is worth repeating that Sassa has paid money into all beneficiaries’ accounts and therefore there is no need to panic and rush and withdraw all of it on the first day of the month,” said Zulu.
“Sassa and post office cards give beneficiaries the convenience of transacting at any time of the month and anywhere in the country without the burden of carrying cash which exposes them to criminal elements.”