Sassa changes R370 SRD grants identification system to combat fraud

Sassa has introduced changes to its identification system. File photo.

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has implemented a new biometric identification system that uses biological characteristics‚ such as fingerprints or facial recognition‚ to verify a person’s identity to combat fraud.

The system only applies to the R370 social relief of distress (SRD) grant beneficiaries who want to change their banking details or phone numbers.

Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said the entity experienced an increase in fraud as more people changed their details on the system.

“We’ve been giving clients the leeway to change their details when they want to‚ but fraudsters have identified the loophole to defraud the beneficiaries. Hence we arrived at this conclusion‚” Letsatsi said.

“If we do nothing‚ we would be blamed. We are trying to make sure beneficiaries get what is due to them and the money doesn’t go down the drain.”

The SRD grant is given to South African citizens‚ refugees‚ asylum seekers and special permit holders between the ages of 18 and 60 who have no financial support from any other source.

The new biometric system requires beneficiaries to have access to a smartphone or computer and a stable internet connection‚ similar to the SRD application process. Letsatsi acknowledged this might be a challenge for some people but it needed to be done.

“Whether we do this or not‚ we are in trouble. If we suspend what we are doing‚ it means the fraudsters will continue doing what they are doing.

“We understand people lose their cellphones and so forth. We encourage our beneficiaries who experience that to do a SIM swap so they keep the same number.”

Letsatsi said they are educating grant beneficiaries about the new system.

“We went through direct communication to ensure those affected were able to communicate with us. However‚ we understand we need to roll it out and reach as many people as possible. We want to go to schools‚ churches‚ engage with councillors‚ which we are doing. We also want to have community imbizos so we can explain. With the communities we can come up with a solution to this problem.”

Clients who do not complete the biometric identification verification may have their grant suspended.

“We assure our clients the agency is committed to their safety and this process will not disrupt any other client not listed in the categories.”

Source: ARENA Holdings.