Sassa’s smartphone requirement excludes vulnerable applicants, says DA

The DA has rejected the SA Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) requirement that R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant recipients need smartphones to access their payments via EFT. 

People queue for their monthly social grant payments in Alexandra, Gauteng. File photo.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

Sassa last week urged R350 SRD grant applicants without smartphones not to choose the EFT payment method.  This was after its customer care unit in Mpumalanga received complaints from beneficiaries who failed to process the EFT payments.

DA MP and shadow social development minister Bridget Masango said the smartphone requirement excludes vulnerable applicants.

“When the grant was announced in 2020, the DA warned that making the application process exclusively online would exclude many potential beneficiaries who did not have access to the internet, data or the necessary devices.

“The department of social development and Sassa promised volunteers would assist those vulnerable people. Alas, multitudes were left to fend for themselves,” she said. 

Masango said the DA would write to the parliamentary portfolio committee chairperson on social development to ask Sassa to account.

“Instead of doing their all to make access to grants easier, Sassa continuously leaves beneficiaries in the lurch through all manner of obstacles,” she said.

“One must question if Sassa is artificially trying to reduce beneficiary numbers following a realisation that without economic stimulation and growth, the SRD grant of R350 — vital to millions — cannot be sustained indefinitely.”

Sassa said it discovered that all the beneficiaries who said they could not process the EFT payments had mobile phones with “little to no computing or internet capacity”.

The EFT payment method requires smartphones with the corresponding apps for such transactions.

“The agency cautions beneficiaries to choose a suitable method of payment to avoid inconvenience. All the applicable methods of payment can be accessed on Sassa’s official website. They can choose to receive payments through officially selected merchants and financial institutions,” said Sassa.