The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will take its own measures to ensure all grant recipients are safe from the coronavirus.
President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on 15 March.
In the declaration’s wake, the government has prohibited large gatherings of no more than 100 people, and as Sassa works with people and communities its offices are often jam-packed daily because of services provided to the country generally.
“The President’s call to action has made us take our own precautionary measures,” Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu said. “This situation calls for urgent action to be taken looking at our daily and monthly business as Sassa and the post office. Beneficiaries are requested to avoid collecting their grants on the first day of payment due to the high pedestrian traffic at shopping malls and other outlets.”
The following measures have been put in place with immediate effect at all Sassa offices to ensure the safety of clients and staff and, most importantly, that no services are interrupted:
Drawing money on first payment day
Beneficiaries are advised to avoid collecting their grants on the first day of payment due to the high pedestrian traffic at shopping malls and other outlets, which is a health risk at this time. Once Sassa has paid money into a beneficiary’s account it will stay there, and can be accessed any day of the month, instead of taking the health risk of visiting an outlet on the first day of the month.
Integrated community registration outreach programmes (ICROP)
All ICROP programmes are suspended with immediate effect, as most of them are attended by more than 100 people (including children and the elderly).
Home, clinic and hospital visits by Sassa officials are suspended with immediate effect. Where a client is above 75 years of age and is bedridden and unable to report to a Sassa office, an application process can be completed to have a procurator or proxy apply on behalf of the affected client.
The chosen procurator must be appointed in writing, and this letter together with all other documents, including identity card, must be produced before the application can be processed. The application will follow normal procedures.
Managing numbers at local offices
Local office managers will ensure the allowed number per day rule is adhered to so no more than 100 people are served at a time. The number will depend on the size of the waiting area. The number allowed in must make provision for a space between clients and adequate ventilation.
In addition, both Sassa and the post office have put up notices at entrances of their offices advising the public that access to the premises will be limited to less than 100 persons at any given point.
Clients are advised not to report to local offices for simple enquiries but to rather call Sassa and the post office on their toll-free customer care numbers. We also encourage them to utilise our social media platforms. All the above mentioned channels will be monitored closely so as to give our clients the best service they require.
Managing numbers at cash pay points
In terms of managing numbers at cash pay points, the organisation will ensure that the number of clients being serviced at a time does not exceed the national set number of 100 people.
This will also give Sassa the opportunity to interact with their clients and encourage them to consider other alternatives to access their money. Alternatives such as banks which is convenient.
The same space at local offices will be given at cash pay points. Priority will be given to elderly, frail, people with disabilities, mothers with children as well as pregnant women.
Sassa and post office staff at pay points will constantly keep clients informed of the process and emphasise that what is being done is to ensure their safety is given preference. Hand sanitisers will also be provided, especially to areas where water is limited.
Protection for staff
All staff dealing directly with clients will be supplied with all the necessary protective kits to ensure that their health is safeguarded.
Managing numbers at post office outlets
Sassa together with the post office will work closely to implement measures to limit the number of public at post office outlets especially on the first few days of grant payments. The same requirements at local offices will apply to post office outlets. Hand sanitisers are available at all post office doors for clients to use before entering the premises.
Additional cash dispensers will be used to ensure that there is no overcrowding around one or two dispensers at cash pay points and post offices. This will increase the speed of serving clients to ensure that they do not spend a long time at payment facilities.
“As government we are calling for a change of behaviour among all South Africans and urge everyone to practice personal hygiene,” Zulu added.
“United we stand, divided we fall,” goes the well-known refrain. Sassa is committed to paying the right social grants, to the right person at the right time and place. The agency’s offices will remain open during working hours.
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