SASSA goes digital with online grant applications pilot system

Sassa is just weeks away from launching an online grant application portal. Already a trial has been underway and for 10 days social grant applicants have been able to apply for certain social grants online. This was a pilot project that will cover the Child Support, Older Persons, and Foster Child grants.

We tested the system. 

Applications can be lodged on which is a secure website. After the initial review process other grants will also be added to the portal. It should be noted this is a pilot programme. We tried the application procedure and so far we had been able to register, click apply on various grants and agree to the terms and conditions. This is where the application ends, with this message:  “resolving pilot issues”. The website is user friendly, but perhaps the testing phase should have been done in-house, as we expected to be able to upload documents and await approval after registering. 

However, this online portal will relieve grant applicants and cut out the inconvenience of standing in queues at SASSA offices in order to apply for grants. This will also eliminate the risk of being exposed and contracting COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. This remote self-service can be done on a computer and mobile phone.  Turnaround time has been allotted 10 days. The applicant should supply all requested paperwork like identity documents.

This pilot phase is supposed to give applicants access to:

Applications for grants for Foster child grant

Older persons grant and Child Support grant

Online submission of the required supporting documentation linked to the application;

Change of circumstances (Payment method, banking details, address);

Status of application

To access the service, applicants need an email address and  mobile phone number. Feedback to applicants will be sent through SMS notification to applicants with no email addresses and an email response will be sent to applicants choosing to be contacted by email. A receipt will be generated when the application is completed.

The testing of the system ran from 14 September 2020 till 25 September 2020. It is important to note that required supporting documents to be attached must be certified. These documents should be certified by a commissioner of oaths.

SASSA CEO Busiswe Memela has assured that the old age grants and child support grants shall be prioritised in the pilot phase. This will not replace the current face to face procedure SASSA currently has. It is to augment and make sure SASSA has more choice for applicants.

We have been informed via SASSA’s social media accounts that the incomplete steps once applying are pilot phase problems. SASSA Spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi confirmed that the online portal is a pilot, they intend to launch officially in October. The pilot is to iron out any potential problems before it is fully operational. This is to assist applicants who are forced to travel and queue. If you forgot one document at home, you don’t have to do a back and forth in public transport. 

Our verdict:

One major concern is accessibility to the internet. An online portal is of no use to someone that cannot use or have access to the internet. We are definitely in favour of online grant applications. Whilst the teething problems can be sorted out in this pilot phase, we remain confident it will improve.