By Nthambeleni Gabara
It is fraudulent for public servants to make false claims to pocket the money from the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant.
Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced reinstating the SRD to provide a monthly payment of R350 until the end of March 2022.
In May last year, around 40 000 public servants applied for the R350 relief grant and 241 public servants pocketed the money.
As a result, Public Service and Administration Director-General, Yoliswa Makhasi, issued a friendly reminder message to public servants to refrain from temptations to benefit from the temporary grant of assistance intended to benefit those who are less fortunate.
The Director-General said the department is deeply concerned about the public servants who see nothing wrong in applying for the grant while they have a source of income.
“The SRD is intended to provide relief to the poor and financially distressed citizens in the country. This amounts to fraud and the DPSA is ready and available to support the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in strengthening controls to prevent public servants from accessing the SRD grant.
“As DPSA, we will also provide support to ensure that money is recovered from public servants who wrongfully benefited and that their cases are referred to the law enforcement agencies to take action on such officials.
“I want to reiterate that any official who receives any form of income from the public service, does not qualify for this grant and may not apply for it as it is tantamount to stealing from the poor,” she said.
According to Ms Makhasi, individuals who do not qualify to receive the grant include public servants, those on internship, Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), learnership or any developmental program and those who receive a form of stipend from the government.
Qualifying criteria for the Covid-19 SRD grant
Unemployed South African citizens, permanent residents or refugees registered with Home Affairs; above the age of 18, not receiving any income or social grant; not receiving unemployment insurance benefit and does not qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefit.
This temporary grant are also not meant for those who are already recipients of the National Financial Student Scheme (NFSAS), those receiving any other government COVID-19 response support. Those who are resident in a government funded or subsidised institution.
How to apply for the SRD grant
Those who qualify to apply for the R350 SRD grant can do so electronically without visiting any SASSA offices since no paper-based applications are accepted.
To apply, here are the channels to reach out to SASSA:
Once an application has been sent, applicants would be providing SASSA with the right to verify their financial information against government data including that of the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
Most importantly, no applications should include attached documents, as the only information is a residential address with a motivation. Applicants are advised not to provide their banking details in their initial application. SASSA will only request banking details once the verification process has been completed.