Thousands No Longer Qualify For SRD Grant Due To New SRD Grant Requirements

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Millions of vulnerable people living in South Africa are currently benefitting from the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant. The agency responsible for paying the grant has received some backlash regarding its new payment requirement.

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The Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant was introduced to provide some financial assistance to unemployed people living in South Africa. Around 7 million people are currently benefiting from the R350 grant. 

The Pay The Grants movement has raised concerns noting that continued digital red tape is negatively impacting the distribution of the R350 grant.

This comes after the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) introduced new regulations to ensure that only eligible individuals are able to access the SRD grant. Sassa revealed that some beneficiaries of will be required to complete Biometric Identity Verification in order to access their grant payments.

Digital Red Tape 

Pay The Grants Deputy Chairperson Elizabeth Raiters says that beneficiaries have been struggling to access their funds as a result of the digital red tap the agency has put in place.

The group says thousands of recipients have been negatively affected with many facing a ‘referred status’ or a lack of support from Sassa when it comes to accessing their grants.

Not everything should be online, I do think they should either do it at the Sassa offices or they should ask post offices to come and assist on this so that the biometrics can be done at the post office.

Raiters further explained that when SRD grant beneficiaries go and collect their grants, some retailers do not look at the identity documents. “The only thing you need is the cellphone.”

She stressed that there have been cases were beneficiaries have waited for more than 15 months without an income, yet they still receive error messages or ‘referred statuses’ when going to collect their grants.

When they enquired about the issue, Sassa informed them that there has been an increase in the number of applications that have been flagged for fraud over the past two months, added Raiters.

Sassa has explained the list that came back with all the new identity numbers that have been flagged for fraud is much higher in the last two months and they don't have any answer to why.

What Is A Referred SRD Grant Status?  

referred SRD grant status is given when your application was randomly selected for internal verification and quality assurance. It may also indicate that the cell phone number used for the SRD grant application was flagged by the South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS). 

SRD grant applicants with a referred SRD grant status must contact the SAFPS to clear this issue and can't submit an SRD grant appeal. Once the issue has been cleared, SRD grant applicants must send an email to Sassa with proof they have cleared the challenge.

New Requirement For SRD Grant Payments

Earlier this year, Sassa has announced that some SRD grant beneficiaries will be required to undergo biometric identity verification.  

Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi says this is being done to detect and stop dishonest people from wrongly benefitting from the grant. 

The new requirement is applicable to clients who received a referred SRD status and for SRD beneficiaries who want to update their mobile numbers will also need to undergo the biometric verification process. 

Letsasi explains, “What we are simply saying is that if the client is referred, technically it was approved but we are saying there are certain things that stills need to be done, this is to verify and do facial recognition.”

He says that once applicants have completed the verification process, the matter will be resolved within five working days, and they will receive their grant payment.

Sassa uses facial recognition to verify the identity of SRD grant beneficiaries. This requires beneficiaries to have a working camera on their mobile phone to complete the facial recognition process.  

SRD grant beneficiaries that are required to complete the biometric identity verification will receive two SMSs from Sassa. The second SMS from Sassa will contain a link that beneficiaries must click on to start the biometric identity verification process. 

While the agency affirmed that the new requirement is effective, Letsasi acknowledged that, Sassa could do a better job in terms of communicating how the system works to its beneficiaries and proving support and assistance where it is needed.

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