Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu announced that on Friday 6 August 2021, applications would open for the government’s reinstituted R350 social relief of distress grant.

The first payments will be processed by the end of the month.

During the lockdown last year, the grant provided much-needed assistance to millions of South Africans who had lost their incomes because of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as to those who were already unemployed.

The pandemic continues to worsen economic inequality and poverty around the country.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the government would reinstate the grant to assist communities affected by the social unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

More than 10-million people applied for the Covid-19 relief grant last year.

“We will start making the first payments by the end of August 2021. Everyone has to reapply,” Zulu said. “All applications will be treated as new applications, even those who were receiving the grant before, because maybe some people may have gone and found employment since receiving the grant.”

How to apply for the R350 grant

Covid-19 R350 grant

  • Eligibility criteria: You must be an unemployed person and not receiving any social grant, Unemployment Insurance Fund benefits, a stipend from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, or any other government Covid-19 response support. The grant now also includes caregivers and asylum seekers who have proper documentation. Asylum seekers must have a section 22 permit or visas that are valid or were valid on 15 March 2020.
  • Everyone eligible — from 18 years to 59 years — must apply for this grant even if their application was successful last time.
  • Send your application through the website, at, on the WhatsApp line on 082 046 8553, or send an SMS to *134*7737#. An application should be submitted through only one of the above channels.
  • In the WhatsApp message, include your name, surname and ID number. You will then receive a message stating the next steps.
  • When the application has been approved, you will receive a message requesting your banking details. However, Zulu said it is important for applicants to note that the bank account or the cellphone number provided for payment must be registered in the name of the approved applicant for the grant to ensure that payment goes to the correct recipient.
  • The grant will be paid into the bank account of the beneficiary. For people who do not have bank accounts, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will pay through the South African Post Office (Sapo)/Post Bank, or using a bank mobile money transfers (cash send).
  • Any applicant whose application is approved but not paid because they could not be traced shall forfeit the money to the state after 31 August 2021. They cannot lodge a claim against the state.
  • For grant inquiries, you can call the Sassa toll-free line on 0800 60 10 11.

“Please don’t apply if you’re working. And in response to questions we have been getting from the public: we are not doing paybacks of the R350 for the months of March to July 2021. We start from [the end of] August 2021 until 31 March 2022 now, provided that criteria continue to be met,” Zulu said.

She added that the department had observed that there were public servants and other people from well-off backgrounds who had previously abused this grant.

According to Zulu, her department has learned from the concerns raised by the auditor general about the previous distribution of the grant. She said that, this time around, they will consider those issues and deal with them accordingly.

“Sassa and the South African Post Office have been working hard at finding other alternative ways of how people can access their money, to minimise the necessity of standing in queues,” Zulu said. “We will provide more information on this, within the coming days.”

Zulu also praised some young South Africans who viewed R350 as an amount they could start a business with and use to sustain themselves.

Sapo chief executive Nomkhita Mona said that, because some of the Post Office’s infrastructure was looted and damaged during the recent unrest, her team was finding other means of ensuring that their clients won’t have to queue outside their branches.

“We are currently working with a number of retailers to ensure that we minimise the need to go to the Post Office. We also have banks that we are engaging with to assist in the process,” Mona said.

“We are also rebuilding the damaged offices in KZN to ensure our services are not greatly impacted. We didn’t experience much damage in Gauteng,” she added.