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This Is How You Can Apply For Unemployment Relief In South Africa During Lockdown

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As the coronavirus (Covid-19) induced lockdown takes its toll, most families have lost a substantial amount of their income and are in desperate need of relief. Many South African households breathed a sigh of relief last week after President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the government would provide special relief aid for those worst affected by the pandemic and have lost the ability to sustain their livelihoods. According to the announcement, individuals will receive Social Relief of Distress Grant of R350. The aid will be provided every month for the next six months. However, you might be wondering how you actually can go about it.

Who qualifies?

Anyone who has lost a significant amount of their income due to the coronavirus pandemic can apply. Applicants must be above 18, unemployed, and must not qualify to receive any other benefit scheme such as an employment benefit aid. Those seeking aid should also not be residents of government-funded or subsidized institutions.

How to apply

Unemployed South Africans are spoiled for ways in which they can apply for aid. Applications can be done on email to SRD@sassa.gov.za. or on instant messenger application, WhatsApp- which is the easiest way.

How to apply on WhatsApp 

Good news for all South Africans as the government announced you can apply for the R350 unemployment grant easily via the WhatsApp platform.

The decision to use WhatsApp is meant to make it easily accessible to the millions of unemployed persons in the country. The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has already tested a WhatsApp registration process for what is formally known as the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant system.

Now some R2 billion a month may be paid out via simple online channels, for at least six months, in a major shift away from the cash payments, or deposits via traditional bank accounts, that has long bedevilled the already massive Sassa system.

Sassa confirmed its unannounced test of registration via WhatsApp over the weekend after it had already closed. You can still apply for the R350 unemployment grant via WhatsApp once Sassa opens the platform to the public.

The system uses the government’s existing Covid-19 WhatsApp line, on 060 012 3456, which is now formally associated with the national department of health.

To date, that platform has been used only to send users information about SARS-CoV-2, how to prevent infection, and where to go if they suspect they have Covid-19.

The first payment is due in early May.


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