Sassa’s systems crash due to Covid-19 grant application volumes

About 4.4 million people have applied so far for the R350 grant, vs around 800 000 who applied at the outset last year: Paseka Letsatsi – spokesperson, Sassa.

FIFI PETERS: Following government’s decision to reintroduce the Covid-19 relief grants, there are reports that South Africa’s Social Security Agency, or Sassa, has been overwhelmed with applications, and its system is under severe pressure. My colleague, Ryk van Niekerk, spoke with Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi, and asked him about this, and asked specifically what the current situation at Sassa was.

PASEKA LETSATSI: We can safely say, since the application opened last week Friday, this morning we had about 4.4 million people who have made an application. If you compare this number of people to the people who applied last year when we opened, it was in the region of 800 000. We are seeing that the numbers are at least now four times higher than we had then. But the good thing about the process now is that we have opened an extra channel. So we have people who can make application using other forms of channels like GovChat app.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: I am trying to access the registration page on the Sassa website. Oops, I’ve just seen it has crashed. Are there still problems with your other channels?

PASEKA LETSATSI: It has not crashed per se. I think it’s a little bit slow. If you go to the website, I’m sure you’d be able to go, or if you download the GovChat app, that’s another channel which you can use to make an application. We checked yesterday in the evening and we realised that per minute we have about 5 000 applications which come through. So it is actually a bigger number than we had anticipated. But we have other channels, like our website. We know that the numbers have been going through. We are also advising people that they can also use the GovChat app. But also we will be introducing another channel later this week, of which we are aware that a majority of our people who do not necessarily have access to their smartphones, so we need to make sure that we accommodate everybody.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: Just quickly, what channels are available for people to use to register?

PASEKA LETSATSI: You can go to our website, which is SRD.Sassa.jovi.za, or you can download the GovChat application and then go to the Messenger and then we’ll be able to process your application.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: I don’t know how the system has been designed, but I can imagine 4.4 million applications since last week Friday is significant. From your perspective how well is the system holding up?

PASEKA LETSATSI: The system is under stress, but our IT division was basically working on it to make sure that it can accommodate as many people as possible. We know that they’re keeping an eye on it. We also want to inform the people that the application is open until the end of August. So people don’t necessarily have to panic; all of them want to make an application at once.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: So when will the first R350 grant be paid, and until when can you register to qualify for that first payment?

PASEKA LETSATSI: We just want to say that we are targeting the first week of September (when) the payments should start to go through. But one other thing that we want to advise people is that if you have a bank account, please do give us your bank account (details), because it makes life easy. Unfortunately, some people prefer not to give up their bank account.

But if you don’t have a bank account, you are directed to the Post Office. But we know that the Post Office as well is working with other merchants to make sure that people would then be able to be diverted to those particular merchants to go and withdraw money or make groceries with that R350, because the intention here …….(between us Post Office) is to make sure that we do not necessarily have the long queues.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: We all know there is a desperate need for people to access this grant, but did you anticipate this response?

PASEKA LETSATSI: I think what we did when we made an assessment, we basically compared with numbers we had last year when the R350 was introduced then. But obviously the numbers have gone up significantly. I guess the conditions of people change from time to time; we are also aware of the fact that some industries might have closed down, some people would have lost their jobs, and so on. The numbers keep on going up and down. This is the only source of income, and they are hoping that it will help them be able to get something so that they can buy themselves food and so forth.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: You said earlier 4.4 million people have submitted applications. I’m sure that number will escalate significantly over the coming days and weeks. But how long does it typically take for Sassa to approve an application?

PASEKA LETSATSI: It does not take necessarily long, but what we basically do, once we get your application, we bounce it together with other government agencies. Like we can bounce it with UIF, we can bounce it with Nsfas. We can bounce it with Sars. We can also check if you are not employed, because some people are also on the database of Sassa itself. So if you are in the database of Sassa it automatically picks it up. But we bounce it with other government agencies just to check if you are not going through double-dipping.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: That is to reduce fraud or potential fraud?

PASEKA LETSATSI: That is to reduce potential fraud because we cannot allow double-dipping. You can’t get money multiple times from the same government.

FIFI PETERS: Just lastly, who specifically may apply for the special grant?

PASEKA LETSATSI: People who carry the South African ID, who are within the borders of the country. It’s people who do not have a source of income. It’s various people who are also qualifying as refugees who are in the country, and so forth. These are the people who can then be able to make an application. We verify it and make sure that it’s authenticated. If a person qualifies we’ll then process it and make sure that people get paid.

FIFI PETERS: That was Moneyweb managing editor, Ryk van Niekerk, in conversation with the spokesperson of Sassa. Paseka Letsatsi.

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Unsustainable : simple as that ;will lead to a VAT rise as taxes already too high.

….now you see your retirement fund. Next time you don’t. 🙁

Michael : Not to worry : If your Pension fund tanks , you can join the Q for the R350p.m : ha ha

Is South Africa facing a Humanitarian Crisis?

4.4Mil X R350 = R1.54Bil

Interestingly if government were to spend the monthly R1.54 on job creation 2,483 jobs would be created at a cost of R620,000 each. That in return would probably feed 2 dependant meaning 7,451 people would be taken out of poverty per month.

Whilst I am proponent of a Universal Basic Income at the cost of ($450 per month), I even acknowledge that as society we cannot have both Social Support and UBI.

I see the R350 as an becoming an entitlement and a vote buying instrument only costing the fiscis about R18.5 Billion a year. Whilst ensuring that anyone who stops this dispensation will face social uproar and looting.

The anc is making good on their promises to make all South Africans an equal society, all equally as miserable, equally poor and equally dependant on the ANC.

Seems nobody in the anc was ever good in an straight forward math calculation, previous president proved that he could read up to 5 digits but once the amount is 6 or more digits, it is hard to destingous between millions and billions

Benefit collection…South Africa’s 2nd largest industry, after thievery.

South Africans should wake up to the absolute havoc that is in creation here !!!

End of comments.

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