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All systems go for social grant payments

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is ready for social grant payments.

Unpacking the department’s intervention measures on Coronavirus (COVID-19) during a Social Cluster briefing held recently, Minister Zulu said retailers and the banking industry are working closely with SASSA to ensure that everyone is able to access their money.

“We work with National Treasury to make sure that the monies are paid a bit early, so that people can access the money. We are happy that National Treasury has stepped up and made sure that everything is processed properly.

“Citizens are reminded that the elderly and people with disabilities should be allowed to access their grants on the 30th and 31st, so that they can return home as quickly as possible, given the emergency that has been declared. All other grants will be available from 31 March 2020,” Minister Zulu said.

She reminded recipients that once the money is paid into their account, it will remain there until they withdraw it.

Hygiene protocol to be enforced at retailers 

Minister Zulu said hygiene protocols and social distancing will be enforced at all retailers, and cooperation is requested to ensure that everyone is attended to without any unnecessary delays.

“We wrote a letter to the Ministers of Police and Defence to request that where we might need support, we [get it],” the Minister said.

SASSA offices close 

SASSA offices will  be closed from 26 March until 16 April 2020, and no new applications will be processed until after the lockdown.

Minister Zulu said all applicants who need immediate assistance will be channelled to the department's Social Relief of Distress (SRD), and applications will be done through the call centre.

With regard to grant administration services, Minister Zulu said SASSA’s local offices will also be on lockdown from 26 March until 16 April 2020.

“No new applications for grants will be done during the period of lockdown. Concerns and enquiries can be directed to the call centre on 0800 601 011 or email GrantEnquiries@sassa.gov.za.”

The call centre will be operational during the lockdown. 

Social services continue operations 

Minister Zulu says while some shelters had to close, others like elderly centres and orphanages cannot be closed.

“Our responsibility is to make sure that we step up in supporting them and making sure that they are not left isolated,” the Minister said.

Post Office to remain open during lockdown

The SA Post Office (Sapo) retail branches will stay open as normal during the 21-day nationwide lockdown to facilitate SASSA payments.

 “… We are designated to provide this important national service and we are cognisant of the importance of social grants for a sizeable part of our population constituting mostly vulnerable people,” Sapo Acting CEO Ivumile Nongogo said.

Sapo’s social grant payment function is an essential service and is among the categories exempted from the nationwide lockdown.

In total, 882 Sapo branches have been designated to provide these services during this period.

The post office logistics services are included in the transportation of medical aid supplies. The logistics services business unit will continue to render those services.

“In order to minimise transmission risks, Sapo’s retail employees will be restricted to operating beyond one meter of each other.

“Measures have also been put in place to control the distance between queueing customers, as well as providing requisite queue marshalling services during peak times in the busy branches. Hygiene improving provisions such as sanitisers, gloves and masks are being made available to retail employees,” the Sapo said.

Nongogo said Sapo’s mail services, parcel deliveries and other support operations will be suspended in conformance with the lockdown. 

Sapo's customer services contact centre will not be available. Customers are urged to not expect any outstanding deliveries to take place during this time.

Customers are also advised not to place any mail items in postboxes as mail collections will be completely suspended during the lockdown.    – SAnews.gov.za