Image: To illustrate
The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) will pay social grants to older persons and persons with disabilities from 30 and 31 March.
Other beneficiaries will be able to access their grants from 01 April.
The social security agency’s decision to pay grants earlier is in response to the State of National Disaster as announced by President Ramaphosa on 15 March.
SASSA engaged with the relevant stakeholders – including the retail and banking sector and the consumer goods council, to determine a feasible approach to pay social grants earlier in order to avoid congestion at retail stores and other pay points.
“We are aware that the impact of COVID19 will be felt much harder by the most vulnerable in society – especially the elderly, hence we have decided for earlier payments for older persons and persons with disabilities to ease congestion and overcrowding. I also wish to thank sectors – most importantly, the banking and retail sectors, for working with us in this regard,” said Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.
The department roped in all Social Development MECS and provincial and regional SASSA offices to monitor all pay points especially those in the rural areas and ensure that payments are distributed in line with the Disaster Management Act provisions.
Zulu said that for other grant recipients additional measures will be implemented to manage numbers at all pay points.
“This is to ensure that hygiene protocols for everyone are strictly followed and social distancing is maintained,” said the Minister.
The department encouraged social grant beneficiaries not to withdraw their money on the first day of payments and to avoid areas where large numbers of people are gathered for their own personal safety.
Once the money is in the account of the beneficiary, it will remain available for the beneficiary to access anytime and anywhere as and when required.
“There is no need to withdraw all the money at once or before a specific date in the month,” said the Minister.
Beneficiaries are also encouraged to use the facilities available on the SASSA/SAPO debit card and swipe the card to pay for purchases, rather than withdraw cash.
SASSA, together with its stakeholders, is also in the process of looking at the feasibility of changing payment dates from 01 to 05 of each month, or the nearest working day if the 5th falls on a weekend or public holidays.
In a bid to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, Minister Zulu reiterated that a change of behaviour amongst all South Africans is necessary and that everyone should practice the following hygiene protocols:
– Washing of hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds;
– Covering of the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow; and
– To avoid close contact with anyone who has cold and flu-like symptoms.