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SASSA Grants Support Half of South African Households



SASSA Grants Support Half of South African Households

SASSA Grants Support Half of South African Households. Millions of South Africans depend on social grants for their daily survival. According to the latest General Household Survey conducted by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), the number of households receiving social grants has dramatically increased over the past two decades.

Rising Dependency on Social Grants

StatsSA 2023 General Household Survey reveals that almost 40% of households in South Africa receive payments from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). This significant rise in grant dependency underscores the growing role of government assistance in the lives of many South Africans.

Currently, SASSA distributes approximately 19 million permanent grants each month. These grants include the Older Persons pension grants, Disability grants, War Veterans grants, Care Dependency grants, Foster Child grants, Child Support grants, Child Support Grant Top-Up, and Grant-in-aid.

Trends Over Two Decades

The reliance on social grants has surged markedly. In 2003, only 12.8% of individuals received grants. This number grew steadily to around 31% between 2017 and 2019. By 2023, the figure had sharply risen to 39.4%. The temporary Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, introduced in 2020, significantly contributed to this spike in grant beneficiaries.

Households receiving at least one grant followed a similar trajectory. In 2003, 30.8% of households received grants. This proportion increased to 52.4% in 2020 before slightly declining to 50% in 2023.

Provincial Disparities

The dependence on grants varies significantly across provinces, with those experiencing the highest poverty rates showing the greatest reliance on social grants. The proportion of individuals and households receiving grants surged from 12.8% in 2003 to 39.4% in 2023, largely due to the introduction of the SRD grant.

Urban vs. Rural Dependency

The survey also highlighted differences in grant dependence between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. In 2023, only 27.8% of individuals in metropolitan areas received grants compared to the national average of 39.4%. Among the metros, Mangaung, Buffalo City, and Nelson Mandela Bay had the highest rates of individual grant receipt, while Cape Town, Tshwane, and Ekurhuleni had the lowest.

A similar pattern emerged for households, with Mangaung and Buffalo City showing the highest levels of grant dependency. Conversely, Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Cape Town exhibited the least dependency.

Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns severely impacted employment opportunities, further straining the finances of unemployed individuals. In response, the SRD grant was introduced in 2020 to support those aged 18-59. The programme has expanded significantly, with recipients in this age group rising from 5.3% in 2020 to 12.4% in 2023.

The uptake of the SRD grant was highest in the provinces of Limpopo and North West, while the Western Cape, Gauteng, and Northern Cape had the fewest SRD grant recipients.


The data from StatsSA’s General Household Survey underscores the critical role that social grants play in South Africa. As nearly half of the nation’s households now depend on SASSA grants, these financial aids are essential for alleviating poverty and supporting the most vulnerable segments of the population. The trends also highlight the need for continued and possibly expanded social support systems, especially in light of economic challenges and regional disparities.

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SASSA SRD Grant Verification Checks May Exclude Many



SASSA SRD Grant Verification Checks May Exclude Many

SASSA SRD Grant Verification Checks May Exclude Many. Millions of South Africans depend on the social relief provided by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). However, recent changes to the verification process for the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant have sparked significant concern among stakeholders, who fear these changes might exclude many deserving individuals from receiving aid.

Introduction of Verification Checks

Sassa has introduced a new verification check for SRD grant beneficiaries to ensure that the grants are disbursed to the correct individuals. This new measure includes identity verification checks done through facial recognition technology. While this step aims to maintain the integrity of the grant distribution process, it has raised alarms among various groups.

Verification Process Details

The verification process includes randomly selecting SRD grant applicants for additional checks. Applicants receive two SMS messages, with the second message containing a link that initiates the facial recognition process. It is crucial for applicants to complete this process within 72 hours, as the link expires after three days.

Concerns and Challenges

Access to Technology

A significant issue with the new verification process is that it assumes applicants have access to smartphones and the internet. Many beneficiaries, particularly those in remote or impoverished areas, lack these resources, making it challenging to complete the facial recognition check.

Process Suspension

Failure to complete the verification process results in the suspension of the SRD grant. Although Sassa has not disclosed the exact number of affected individuals, the potential impact is substantial, considering the number of SRD beneficiaries ranges between 7.5 million and 8.5 million.

Delays and Communication Issues

Beneficiaries with the necessary technology are also experiencing concerns about potential delays in their grant payments. For instance, Lerverch Pieters, unemployed since January 2024, reported delays and expressed worry about the impact on his family, who depend on the grant.

Elizabeth Raiters from #PayTheGrants criticized Sassa for inadequate communication regarding the new verification process. She warned that many beneficiaries might miss their June payments due to these issues. The organization has flagged the problem with Sassa, urging them to address the communication gap and provide better support to beneficiaries.


The introduction of verification checks by Sassa aims to ensure the proper distribution of SRD grants and prevent fraud. However, the reliance on technology for facial recognition and the lack of clear communication pose significant challenges for many beneficiaries. Immediate action is needed to address these issues, ensuring that deserving individuals are not unjustly excluded from receiving essential support.

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