Collecting your R350 grant? Don't pay scammers for a spot in the queue

30 August 2021 - 13:40 By kyle zeeman
Covid-19 social relief of distress grant beneficiaries outside a post office in East London.
Covid-19 social relief of distress grant beneficiaries outside a post office in East London.
Image: Sino Majangaza

The SA Post Office (Sapo) has warned beneficiaries of the R350 Covid-19 social relief of distress grant not to fall for a scam promising to get them a spot in line.

More than 10-million people have applied for the grant, with the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) set to pay out R2.1bn this month alone. The agency told TimesLIVE at least 6-million beneficiaries will receive their first payment by the end of the month.

In a statement sent to TimesLIVE on Monday, the Post Office said it had “become aware of instances where self-appointed queue marshals ask customers who visit their branches a fee for a place in the front of the queue”.  

It said this is illegal, and charges may be brought against those responsible.

“No Sapo employee or other individuals have the right to ask beneficiaries to pay any fee to be serviced and/or to receive preferential treatment by jumping a queue.

“Customers are advised not to pay the fee demanded by any Sapo employee, queue marshals or any other person requesting such a payment, and should consider laying a charge of bribery and corruption at their nearest police station. 

“There is close co-operation between the Post Office’s security and investigations unit and the SA Police Services, and formal charges will help put a stop to this opportunistic and unethical behaviour.

“It should be noted that the Post Office does not have jurisdiction over the behaviour of members of the public outside Post Office property.”

HOW DO I REPORT THIS ANONYMOUSLY?

It urged anyone who has noticed such behaviour to report it to Sapo’s toll-free crimebuster hotline on 0800-020-070. 

“The caller has the option of remaining anonymous and all calls are followed up.”

Sapo said those standing in line for payments should social distance, wear masks and sanitise.

WHEN SHOULD I JOIN THE LINE?

The first payments were made last Wednesday, with beneficiaries able to choose how they want the money paid to them: in their bank account, via Cash Send or collection at a Post Office.

Sapo spokesperson Johan Kruger told TimesLIVE collection of payment dates are determined by the beneficiary’s last three digits of their ID. 

“They will receive an SMS from Sassa to say the grant is ready for collection. We are also working on an SSD code  which the beneficiaries will soon be able to use on their cellphones to check if there is money waiting for them,” he said.

The payment dates for the rest of August, according to the last three digits of beneficiaries’ ID numbers, are as follows: 

  • August 30: 084 and 089
  • August 31: 080 and 085

IS THERE AN EASIER WAY?

Sapo said those collecting the R350 grant do not have to visit their local post office every month. 

“They can choose to have their grant paid into a Postbank account and use their Postbank card to access the grant. Speak to your local Post Office branch if you would like to arrange this,” it advised.


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