The South Africa Social Security Agency‘s (Sassa’s) Covid-19 relief fund grant application website is currently under severe pressure, its spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi revealed in an interview with Moneyweb’s Ryk van Niekerk.
Letsatsi revealed that since applications opened last Friday, around 4.4 million people had applied. This is about four times higher than last year, which saw figures in the 800,000 region.
But the website has not crashed, he assured, adding that users are encouraged to download the GovChat application.
“I think it’s a little bit slow.
“We checked yesterday [Tuesday] in the evening and we realized that per minute we have about 5,000 applications which come through. So it is actually a bigger number than we had anticipated.”
She said Sassa’s system was “under stress”, but that the agency’s IT division was working on it, to accommodate as many applicants as possible.
“We also want to inform the people that the application is open until the end of August. So people don’t necessarily have to panic; all of them want to make an application at once.”
Another Sassa grant application channel would be introduced later this week, Letsatsi said, due to many applicants not having access to smartphones.
What other sites can applicants use?
Prospective or returning applicants can visit Sassa’s website, download the GovChat application or go to Messenger, in order for the agency to process one’s application.
Applicants have also been encouraged to register on Sassa’s database, and to provide their bank account details, if possible.
This is to avoid queues at all costs. Users who do not have a bank account are redirected to collect their grants at the Post Office.
When a R350 grant is paid, user details are verified with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas), and the South African Revenue Service (Sars).
“We can also check if you are not employed, because some people are also on the database of Sassa itself. But we bounce it with other government agencies just to check if you are not going through double-dipping.”
These security measures, Letsatsi explained, are for fraud purposes.
“You can’t get money multiple times from the same government.”
Letsatsi said the time for an application to be approved “does not necessarily take long”.
August grants, for example, would be paid during the first week of September.
Why are numbers surging?
Current relief fund applications are surpassing what Sassa anticipated.
“I guess the conditions of people change from time to time; we are also aware of the fact that some industries might have closed down, some people would have lost their jobs, and so on.
“The numbers keep on going up and down. This is the only source of income, and they are hoping that it will help them be able to get something so that they can buy themselves food and so forth,” Letsatsi explained.
Anyone with a South African ID who resides within the borders of South Africa and does not currently have a source of income is able to apply for a Sassa grant.
People who qualify as refugees residing in South Africa are also able to make use of the service.
“If a person qualifies we’ll then process it and make sure that people get paid,” Letsatsi assured.
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