South African agency warns of fake notice for Covid-19 social relief grant

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Social media users have been sharing a notice purportedly issued by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) outlining the application process for its Covid-19 social relief grant, which was recently reinstated. However, the post is a hoax; the agency distanced itself from the notice and cautioned individuals to not divulge personal information to unknown websites.

A Facebook post published on July 30, 2021, includes a screenshot of a scanned document, addressed to SASSA clients, with contact details to obtain the monthly R350 ($24) grant.

An image of the false SASSA notice, saved from the July 30 Facebook post

However, the notice “is fake and does NOT come from SASSA. Details and date on which the application system re-opens will be announced soon,” the agency tweeted on August 1, 2021.

As reported by TimesLIVE, the agency’s name is continuously used to scam those most in need.

Last month, SASSA had to warn of another false message that claimed the agency was issuing food vouchers worth R750 ($52) for the unemployed in KwaZulu-Natal province.

“A message has been shared on social media platforms recently, leading some to believe that SASSA is issuing food vouchers of R750 to unemployed persons,” the agency said in a July 1, 2021 statement. “These reports are not true and are misleading the public.”

Grant reinstatement

On top of the false notice, SASSA alerted people to three more misleading claims in just the last week since South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the relief programme would be reimplemented.

"To support those who have no means of supporting themselves, we are reinstating the Social Relief of Distress Grant to provide a monthly payment of R350 until the end of March 2022," he said to the nation on July 22, 2021.

The special Covid-19 grant, a temporary provision of assistance intended for individuals who cannot meet their families’ most basic needs, was introduced in 2020 following the emergence of the coronavirus, but the grant was halted at the end of April 2021.

SASSA also distanced itself from another widely-shared claim that was related to food parcels, while another alert warned clients not to provide personal information to unknown sites.

In a tweet, SASSA stressed that none of the applications for this new Covid-19 grant would be made by telephone, email or USSD code (a prompt code sent by phone), as claimed by multiple posts.

Local media reported that the Department of Social Development would announce on August 4, 2021, the application date for the reinstated social relief grant.