Social Relief of Distress Grant for Unemployed

by | Jun 11, 2020 | Personal Finance

As per the President’s announcement in late April 2020, unemployed South Africans would receive R2,100 each within 6 months.
The special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 a month will be paid to people who are currently unemployed and do not receive any other form of a social grant or UIF payment.
SASSA will do the necessary checks, and screen applicants against databases of SARS, UIF and NSFAS to see if you qualify for this relief grant.

Last week, SASSA CEO Busisiwe “Totsie” Memela made some points to the media about this grant:

  • People will be using an SSD or Whatsapp process to register (THE WHATSAPP number is not available at THIS time).
  • You are going to be able to indicate things like “I’m not employed”, “I’m not getting NSFAS” , “I’m not getting UIF “, “I am a South African” etc.
  • The system will then automatically say whether you qualify or not – and then the processing of your payment will start.
  • Foreign nationals (with legal papers to be in South Africa) and registered refugees who are not getting any grants or UIF will qualify.
  • Self employed people who were not part of the UIF system, but who are not earning any money now, and who are not getting any grants or UIF, also qualify.
  • SASSA hopes to start payments by the beginning of May.
  • Once you have been processed, SASSA will pay at that time. You won’t have to wait until month-end.
  • Three possible processes are going to be used for payment: e-voucher, mobile money transfer, or if you have a bank account – money will be put into your bank account.


When people heard of the grants through SASSA, the first thing they did (and rightfully so) was to try and contact them. That has proven to be very difficult.
SASSA offices are closed during lockdown. Many people only discovered this after making their way there.
There is a toll- free number that you can call – but you get put on hold for very long periods of time, as the lines are all busy.
When calling the Western Cape number for SASSA, they tell you that the call centre is unmanned but that they will get back to you with in 24 hours. I called 5 days ago – I am still waiting.

People are frustrated, confused and hungry. It’s been nearly a week and we still don’t have the details of how exactly to apply for this special unemployment grant.

It doesn’t help that money has been made available to us, but we have no idea of how to access it.
These logistical issues should have been thought of and all mechanisms should have been put in place before the announcement.

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