A total of 42,329 beneficiaries have cancelled their R350 Social Relief of Distress grant (SRD) administered by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).
This is due to their improved conditions to an extent that they no longer needed the grant, said Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu at a media briefing on Friday on social relief measures to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is important for us to thank them because we didn’t have to go around searching for them. They did it out of their conscience and understanding there are other people who are still in a worse situation who need the money,” she said.
The grant has been extended for another three months, with 65,795 new applications having been received.
“The 9.7 million that have already applied will continue to be reassessed monthly and qualifying applicants will continue to be paid in the same way,” said Zulu.
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The department has spent more than R17 billion benefiting those in need of direct income support.
“We anticipate that by the end of the period, we would have spent over R22 billion to support this group of beneficiaries.”
Temporary disability grants
The temporary disability grant, however, remains the most vulnerable to corruption, with 11 people arrested in Limpopo alone since last week for fraud.
“I wish to thank Sassa and law enforcement agencies for putting an effort into this,” she said.
The minister said 118,581 people had been booked for assessments and 79,000 have already completed their assessment processes.
“From these 61,955 applications have already been completed.”
The department had one million disability grants recipients in January and the number increased to 1.1 million in March.
Early childhood development grants
The department launched the early childhood development (EDC) employment stimulus relief grant earlier this month and is supported by the presidential employment stimulus initiative.
Zulu said the department had received R496 million to assist the sector, which is among the hardest hit by the pandemic.
“An initial indication of R1.3 billion for this was revised based on the outcomes of the assessment of the process through the national treasury. We have now received 27,000 applications from ECD programs,” she said.
Zulu said the pandemic taught the department there is a need to empower South Africans with technology as it makes things easier for everyone involved.
“They don’t have to be going to an office and queuing there. We are going to find a way of empowering our people more by bringing technology closer to them.
“We’ve learnt a lot of lessons from the R350 grants system. People would not put in the right information and that created a problem. We’re hoping that we can work with the department of education and other departments to empower our people because life becomes more easy when they’re able to access these processes. ”
Empowering people with technology will also help with overcrowding at post offices, which remains a challenge for the department
“This payment method which was meant to be temporary has now become the default payment channel. Some 4.2 million beneficiaries are paid through this channel and this has created pressure on the post office.
“We have been working with SAPO to alleviate the overcrowding challenges. We have deployed volunteers to manage queues and maintain social distancing,” said Zulu.