20 February 2012
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is embarking on a major project to re-register and verify the identities of the country’s social grant beneficiaries in order to rid the system of corruption and ensure that grants are paid to the right people only.
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said the process would be completed in two phases, with the first phase starting in March and ending in May. She also allayed fears that there would be disruptions in the paying of social grants during the re-registration of over 15-million beneficiaries.
“During this period, particularly from 1 April, beneficiaries should continue to collect their grants at their respective pay points including banks … new beneficiaries will be enrolled on to the new biometric-based payment system as from 1 March 2012 at Sassa local offices upon application,” she said in Pretoria last week.
Biometric-based payment system
During the second phase – from 1 June to 31 December – existing eligible beneficiaries, including bank beneficiaries and children, will be enrolled on the new biometric-based payment system at Sassa pay points, local offices and designated sites.
Sassa is to conduct home visits during this period to accommodate beneficiaries over 75 years of age, bedridden beneficiaries at their homes and institutions such as hospitals.
With the new system, beneficiaries will be issued with a SASSA-branded smart card which they can use anywhere in the country.
“For many beneficiaries, this will be a dream come true … The system will allow the right person to be paid the right amount and be enrolled within close proximity of the communities where they live,” Dlamini said.
She urged beneficiaries to bring their IDs and existing SASSA-branded cards, when re-registering, warning that no one would be re-registered without these documents.
Beneficiaries of the child support grant will be required to bring their babies, along with their birth certificates. Fingerprints will be taken of the child to verify his or her identity.
Working with Home Affairs
Dlamini warned that apart from the child’s birth certificate and fingerprints, there were no other ways of verifying the child’s identity. The department will be working with the Home Affairs Department to check and confirm if the child belongs to the mother.
Sassa also has interfaces with the Home Affairs system, which will enable them to easily get information, such as if a beneficiary has died.
Sassa CEO Virginia Peterson said 686 000 beneficiaries had been “lost” in the system and they would be following up on them. This included people who had died or moved to another province, for example.
She said the cost for the entire process to re-register beneficiaries was about R15-million, which included the upgrading of the call centres where people can call 0800 601011 if they have problems or want more information.
A rigorous information campaign will be run by Sassa to educate beneficiaries, community members and organisations about the new system.