Sassa financial year ends

Millions affected by delays in R350 Covid-19 grant payment

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
Sassa says a technical glitch means there will be delays in making payment of the R350 Covid-19 relief grant in March and April.
Sassa says a technical glitch means there will be delays in making payment of the R350 Covid-19 relief grant in March and April.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times/File

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) says there will be a delay in the R350 Covid-19 grant payment in March and April “due to the transition in government financial years”.

The agency's CEO Totsie Memela has apologised to millions of South Africans who will be affected, many of whom depend heavily on the grant.

“Sassa would like to apologise for this break in the payments and would like to reassure all deserving applicants for the relief grant who have been affected that payments will be made as soon as the administrative processes have been completed,” said Memela.

She said all private and public institutions – whose processes constitute dependencies –have been roped in and are working tirelessly with Sassa to stabilise the situation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the grant last year after the economic devastation caused by the pandemic during the hard lockdown which led to massive job cuts. The aim of the grant is to assist qualifying unemployed citizens and foreign nationals. 

SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE reported that earlier this year the National Treasury allocated R2.1bn to extend the grant until the end of the month.

Explaining the glitch, the department said the end of March is the end of the financial year for the government and various administrative tasks are required before any payments which relate to the previous financial year can be made.

“Sassa is busy with these end-of-financial-year tasks, which has delayed payment. Sassa received confirmation of the extension of the relief grant on February 11, after all its administration systems had in fact been closed at the end of January, which was the previously announced closing date for this grant,” said department spokesperson Sandy Godlwana in a statement.

She said the systems were reactivated immediately on receiving confirmation of the funding for the extension and the application channel was again operational as from February 13.

“A total of 86,363 new applications were received for February alone. Every one of the more than 10-million applications for this grant are validated on a monthly basis, to ensure that payments are made to applicants who qualify,” said Godlwana. 

“Payments for February were thus made at the end of February and early March. The applications for March were validated as usual after the payments for February had been completed, but could not be extracted for payment before March 31.”

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