Sassa’s SRD Grant Verification Checks Could Exclude Many

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Millions of people rely on the social relief provided by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). However, the introduction of a verification check has sparked concern among stakeholders who fear that many people will be excluded from receiving the SRD grant. 

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The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) recently added a verification check for Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant beneficiaries. The introduction of this verification check is a major source of concern as stakeholders fear it will exclude hundreds of individuals from receiving government relief. 

To ensure that Sassa grants are being paid to the correct person, Sassa introduced identity verification checks. This verification check is done through a facial recognition check. 

Sassa revealed that it may randomly select SRD grant applicants for additional checks to ensure the overall integrity of its verification processors. They explained that applicants will receive two SMS messages with the second SMS containing a link for verification. Clicking the link will initiate the facial recognition process.

It's important to note that this link is only valid for 72 hours giving applicants just three days to complete the facial recognition check to verify their identity. 

GroundUp reported that hundreds of SRD grant applications are facing issues accessing their grants due to a new biometric identity verification process measure, aimed at combating fraud, which requires beneficiaries who change their mobile numbers or are suspected of identity theft to confirm their identity through a Know Your Client process. 

This involves taking a photo of their face and sending it via an SMS link. However, individuals without smartphones or internet access struggle to complete the facial recognition check.

This is a major cause for concern as failure to complete the verification process results in the suspension of the grant. While Sassa has not revealed the number of affected individuals, the number of SRD beneficiaries ranges between 7.5 million and 8.5 million, subject to monthly means tests.

Even beneficiaries with the necessary technology are expressing concerns about potential delays in their grant payments. Lerverch Pieters, who has been unemployed since January 2024, experienced delays and is worried about the impact on his family, who rely on the grants.

Elizabeth Raiters from #PayTheGrants has criticised Sassa for the lack of communication regarding the verification process, warning that many beneficiaries might miss their June payments due to these issues. #PayTheGrants has flagged the issue with Sassa.

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