- The R350 social relief of distress grant has been the subject of controversy with delays in applications and even payments
- The national state of disaster is set to expire later this month, bringing the outstanding payments into question
- Briefly.co.za explores what Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has to say on the subject
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The SASSA grant affording R350 on a monthly basis to unemployed citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has been a rocky affair to be polite.
The effort to provide social relief during this difficult time has been marred with immense difficulties from delays in applications to a lack of payment. The current national state of disaster is set to expire on 15 October and has left numerous citizens wondering what would become of outstanding payments.
However, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has shed some light on the situation, urging South Africans dependent on the income not to panic.
Speaking to SABC during a recent interview, Zulu explained that citizens who have been approved as beneficiaries can rest assured that they will indeed be receiving their payments.
This is irrespective of the state of disaster possibly ending in just over a week's time. However, those who have yet to apply for the grant were warned that the time frame for applications has drawn to a close.
In a statement released by the agency it was acknowledged that SASSA has experienced a high amount of rejections for Covid-19 grant applications, commenting that:
"This can be attributed to several factors such as a mismatch between details provided by beneficiaries and reliance on the information derived from data sets obtained from institutions such as UIF and SARS databases, among others."
The agency explained that an increase in rejections was noted during the month of August after additional steps were implemented to test applications.
SASSA further clarified that a number of factors were explored when considering applications, commenting that:
"Applications are considered on their individual merits on a month-to-month basis, which means an application can be approved for one month and rejected the following month if, for instance, the financial situation changed.
"This has become more prevalent with the lockdown levels easing, allowing for some sectors of the economy to return to work, and thus reducing the number of severely distressed citizens."
The agency said that applicants whose applications were declined have the right to appeal against the decision with SASSA revealing that it is currently processing around 60 000 appeals.
Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that Zulu had revealed that millions have been looted from the SA Social Security Agency over the course of the past five years.
Zulu explained that a total of 182 officials have been placed on suspension while only 76 were dismissed on charges of fraud during this time.
This came in response to a Parliamentary question from Economic Freedom Fighters MP Laetitia Arries, who had asked how many officials had looted SASSA funds over the last years.
Arries had wanted to know how much had been looted and what measures had been put into place to stop fraud in the agency. To this question, Zulu had issued a written response with the minister explaining that:
“The total amount of money lost through fraud over the past five years is approximately R282 476 193.”
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