Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said it’s high time the department digitalises grant applications.
She said this after her two-day visit to Cape Town this week, where she witnessed chaos as hundreds of people were queueing without maintaining social distancing.
“I think Covid-19 pushed us to do things we never thought we were going to do.
For the R350 grant, nobody went to the office to make any application.
“There was no human conduct yet people applied, were processed and they got their money.
“If you look at the number of people who got their money in comparison to the people who didn’t get their money, the number is very small. The majority did get their money. This is a lesson for me,” said Zulu.
On Friday 15 January, cops used water cannons to force grant applicants to maintain social distancing outside the Bellville office.
In Gugulethu, hundreds of people have been sleeping in the queues in order to renew their lapsed disability grants.
Zulu said her department was exploring ways to ease the burden on Sassa offices.
She said one of the options could be to afford parents an opportunity to register grants as soon as their child is born, while still in the hospital.
“What we would like to do as Sassa and the department is to find new ways of registering those newly born babies. “The same thing that Home Affairs does in the hospitals, we should be able to do the same thing as Sassa.
But it is about developing systems that are not going to end up being abused,” said Zulu.
She said going the digital route is possible judging from how people applied for the R350 Covid-19 relief.
She said when the idea was introduced, there was an outcry.
“Guess what? Let us not undermine the capacity of our people. They managed to apply. Yes, many of them have problems. They had to ask their neighbours and their children to assist them. But this means technology is the next thing that we should focus on to give service to our people,” she said.
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