The first day of applications for the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant saw excessive web traffic slow down the application process, the South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) said on Friday.
“This is a clear indication of the huge need for food aid among others, from distressed inhabitants of the country, and therefore the President [Cyril Ramaphosa] couldn’t have reinstated this grant at a better time,” SASSA chief executive, Busisiwe Memela-Khambula said.
The agency has added two new online channels for applications in order to ease the pressure on the website, namely https://govchat.app/login and Facebook messenger, https://www.facebook.com/govchat.org.
Initially, applications were taken through the website on https://SRD.sassa.gov.za or through WhatsApp on 082 046 8553 only.
Applications opened at 9 am but in 45 minutes, utilisation of the server hosting the website was above 95%.
“This resulted in the website slowing down dramatically, which necessitated us to use our disaster recovery sites and add more channels for application immediately. Our technicians are on high alert and will monitor the impact of these interventions in order to continuously improve the application experience for our clients,” said Memela-Khambula.
She said SASSA would early next week add another channel, the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).
“The construction of this channel is at an advanced stage and it will help people without smartphones to also be able to apply effortlessly. Further announcements will be made in due course.
“Anyone still experiencing technical difficulties with WhatsApp or the website is reminded that they still have the whole month of August to apply in order to receive their August payments. Our technicians are working tirelessly to stabilise the system. We appeal to all affected applicants to please exercise patience,” said the agency.
The Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Director-General, Yoliswa Makhasi, has also urged public servants to refrain from fraudulent attempts to benefit from the R350 COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant. Makhasi condemned public servants who see nothing wrong with applying for the grant, while they have a source of income.