R350 unemployment grant: More than 3 million applicants turned down last month
- In total, almost 20 million payments of the Covid-19 state unemployment grant have been made.
- But every month, millions of applications are rejected as Sassa tries to avoid paying the grant to people who are already getting other state support.
- So far, 241 civil servants have received the grant in error.
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Since May, more than 16.4 million applications to receive the special Covid-19 unemployment grant have been rejected.
The R350 grants, formally known as Social Relief of Distress (SRD) payments, are paid to unemployed people who receive no other state support.
The Covid-19 grant is for those who are currently unemployed and who are receiving no other form of assistance.
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) checks applicants against government databases, such as those for the Unemployment Insurance Fund, its own list of grant recipients, and those of the SA Revenue Service, to determine who is eligible.
It rejected applications from more than three million people in both September and October, the highest levels since the launch in May. This emerged from Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu’s written response to a parliamentary question.
Some 60,000 appeals have been received to date.
READ | The R350 coronavirus grant system has a pile of unanswered emails 300,000 deep – on top of 40,000 calls per day
So far, 241 civil servants have been wrongly paid the grant, Zulu said.
“The reason thereof is that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) could not find them on the databases at its disposal, when conducting verification.” However, the auditor-general’s office has identified these individuals as current government employees or retired civil servants on a state pension.
The grant was supposed to end in October, but last month President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that it would be extended for another three months. It will not be extended further, he stressed.
In May, 4.4 million people received the grant, which increased to 4.8 million in July, before falling to below 4.6 million in August.
So far, almost 19.8 million payments were made to the tune of R6.9 billion.
“Payments for September and October are currently being done as a single amount of R700 to try and ensure that the backlog of payments is resolved before we move into the extension of the grant for the next 3 months,” says Zulu.
Almost 2,000 foreigners (asylum seekers and special permit holders), mostly from Lesotho and Zimbabwe, have applied for the grants. But no payments have been made as SASSA is still working to validate their permit numbers.
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