The chief executive of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), said on Thursday that the country's R350 Covid-19 grant was not necessarily for all citizens, which applicants needed to understand.
Totsie Memela made the remarks via an emailed statement.
The agency implemented the temporary grant to lessen the devastating effects of the Covid-19 lockdown on some of the country's poorest citizens, but with strict criteria needing to be met.
Those applying for the grant need to be unemployed or have no income. They could also not be receiving any other kind of government assistant, such as UIF or NSFAS, or any other kind of social grants. Recipients also have to be over the age of 18.
Memela said the department was aware that this had caused unhappiness from applicants, "and thus it is important for beneficiaries to understand the criteria because this grant is not necessarily for everyone".
In the same statement, Sassa said it had received numerous grievances from citizens that had their applications declined.
"The majority of declined applications are from people already on the UIF database or qualifying to receive it. In this case the applicants are advised to contact the Department of Employment and Labour to either apply for UIF or follow up with their applications," said the agency.
"Sassa verifies all applications by matching their data with other public and private databases to eliminate possibilities of double-dipping, so that only deserving applicants receive this financial aid."
Memela said the agency was doing "everything in our power to solve the matter", adding that a dedicated email address and phone number had been made available to process complaints. The agency was aiming to pay "the right grant, to the right people".
According to Sassa, 3.2-million applicants had thus far been approved, while 1.2-million had been paid.
"Payments are still in progress and Sassa still needs to do a verification check before any payments can be done. Applicants are processed daily but the major source of delays come from the necessary verification process which Sassa has to do with other institutions which are dependencies in the value chain," said the agency.
Memela advised beneficiaries to use their own personal accounts, not those of their neighbours, when applying, and to ensure that their personal details were exactly as they appeared on their identity documents.
The agency said that those feeling aggrieved should call 0800 60 10 11 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with their complaints in order to access the recourse mechanism.