The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) says it has so far paid ten people of the millions who have applied for the R350 special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant. The agency has explained the ten payments were a test run.

SASSA says people who do not have bank accounts will still be able to get their grant via their cellphone number provided it is RICA’d in their name.

More than 3.5 million people have applied for the grant. There are concerns about widespread fraud if proper checks are not conducted.

SASSA CEO Busisiwe Memela-Khambula says the test run was to ensure that the system is working.

“We did a test last week to pay about ten people to make sure that the system works. Now that the systems works, that’s why we have sent the details of all the people that we are ready to pay so that they can load their bank accounts and so that we can pay them. Those people that have received the message that says ‘please give us your bank accounts,’ if they applied this month (May), they will get R700 next month (June). In terms of people who don’t have bank accounts, as long as they have a cell phone that is RICA’d we are going to pay them on their mobile. They will get an e-money.”

SASSA had previously said that they would start with the grant payments last Friday, 15 May 2020. Memela-Khambula said last Thursday that the agency was focusing on applicants’ banking details.

“We will now focus on the banking details so we can ensure that most of them can get paid tomorrow (last Friday). When you put your application through, you need to indicate your name and surname according to how it appears in your ID so we can verify with Home Affairs. So there is no need to load a copy of your ID, bank statements, and proof of address; all that documentation is not required.”

In the video below, SASSA CEO Busisiwe Memela-Khambula unpacks the social relief distress grant.