You can (hopefully) apply for SASSA’s R350 COVID relief grant via WhatsApp from today


Lockdown continues, which means not many of us are getting out much at all. But there’s relief on the horizon. Sadly, not a lessening of restrictions (though that would be great), but literal relief, for the country’s poorest by way of the SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) R350pm COVID relief grant. And, provided those poor folks have access to a smartphone — as much of the country does — nobody has to go out and apply for it.

The start of relief

The temporary grant, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the R500-billion economic and social relief measures to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, will see recipients receive R350 a month for the next six months. That’s from May to October this year and it applies to those unemployed, over the age of 18 and who receive no other forms of government assistance, including UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) or NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) support.

As usual, though, it’s the tech that we’re really interested in. Applications for the SASSA social grant begin today in Gauteng before spreading to the rest of the country. It’s how the grant will be applied for that has our attention. GovChat, the country’s “…largest civic engagement platform accessible online”, is handling that with the majority of communication concerning the grant taking place via a WhatsApp bot.

Simple setup

Getting set up to use the bot is surprisingly simple, though it’s taking a little while to respond at present. Qualifying South Africans just need to add GovChat as a contact in WhatsApp, using the phone number 082 046 8553. Once that’s done (you’ll see a blue-and-white icon), you’ll be able to start your application process by sending the word ‘SASSA’ to the bot. When it’s functional, that is.

We’ve tried the bot out and it’s not responding as yet. Whether that’s a volume issue or because applications for grants haven’t opened yet today is something we’re not sure of but we’ll have an update on the process as soon as everything is properly live or a response has been received on our end. [UPDATE: It seems to be a volume issue.] There are other ways to speak to GovChart, though, including Facebook Messenger, SMS and USSD. We’re, obviously, not actually going to be applying for the grant. Just… seeing how it all works.


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  1. HAs not been launched yet. They will let the people know at 5:30pm as per mention over 702 at 5:21pm May 11 2020

    • I’ve been trying to apply for COVID-19 SOCIAL RELIEF of DISTRESS Grant please help me fill in correctly the spaces online thank you Oupa from Bethal.

  2. Pingback: You can (hopefully) apply for SASSA's R350 COVID relief grant via … –

  3. morekwa kenny phogole on

    my name is morekwa phpgole
    am trying to apply via wassup but I don’t recieve any respond.

      • this people they just create a platform to waste a state money. What happened to the food parcels ? People from rural areas did not get those food even today they are still waiting. During election time you will see 10 cars trying and lying to us by telling how good they are only to find out that they are good for their own survival. Now is time for them to show us how seriously they need us, but dololo. They go all over the rural places lying to people bribing them with free t-shit, caps and calendars. Where are they now to offer free mask? No where to be found. No printed political party cars roaming the street.

        • adriana keyser on

          i agree to all…i live in a small town in the Eastern Cape and my income is so small and my rent is high…i can not survive right now…i was retrenched as of miss manage a school where i worked…i have an eye prosteuses and can not get a job as i am 67 years old…i plea for assistance…

  4. Raphalo reuben on

    my name is Raphalo Reuben
    I am trying to apply for unemployment grant through What’s App but I am not getting the respond now I don’t know what to do…!!!

  5. Mpompi Fumanekile on

    I’m not receiving any social income I apply R350 social grant relief via watsapp I don’t get response

  6. It s been a long time trying to apply via ussd code an whatsapp but they ignore us they don’t respond why mara

  7. Everyone is trying to apply via watapp but no respond coming through, can any one help we need this money because we not working.

  8. I’m understand a Scholarship that does not pay me any fund but I’m not qualifying for Social relief but I’m unemployed this is not right because we all need the money i even have a baby that doesn’t receive grant

    • My name is Lerato I try to apply via Email,what’s up,SMS the link doesn’t open for application form I think they just waiting our time and data that we don’t have no one is assisting us here

  9. Actually how does this thing of applying do work cos non of the registration processes is working. Is this a kind of a toying with peoples emotions or what ? First it was food parcels now is this. When is time for the elections you guys go around with 5(five) to 10(ten) cars giving people free t-shit because is for your survival not for the community. But at this difficult time none of the political government is giving away free masks to the poor. No political printed cars at the moment roaming around pretending like they know what they are doing while they don’t. This is the time to see that we are on our own during difficult times. Poor people are there and will always be there to lift you to the greener pasture. thanks but thanks for nothing.

  10. Jonga Lungile Cloter on

    i tried several times but it gave me era and i can’t continue to apply

    I’ve to put only OTP pin but i don’t know what should i do now

  11. I’m not working I’m 21 years old I live with my younger brother we survive by selling sweet and vegetation we really need this money R350

  12. Enock Mongale on

    Hey!!I tryed to apply via WhasApp then I got link I end here..I’m applying for grant..I’m still a teenager I need really need that for supporting me n my family

  13. What what the hell is this fooling us around around wasting money for data that we do not have ,is this some come kind of sick joke .this is utter rubbish really because we are poor we are the centre of joke……..

  14. Rhulani Rodney on

    I have applied for unemployment insurance
    But I’m not getting any response I’m wondering if I will ever qualify
    I’m very poor
    I need this money
    I’m desperate

  15. Phindile Happiness on

    Can u plz check for Vukani Nxumalo he was send lost week I msg the didn’t get any respons or MG’s

  16. I think we’ll apply for a thing that isn’t happening until this six months is reached. There’s no R350 Grant here it was just a showing off to other countries

  17. Is this some kind of a sick joke to unemployed citizens because none of this is true the covid 19 grant from gorvement is jst a front to lue black people who are in need

  18. This thing doesnt work i applied and checked it said my form was submited now i checked during the day it says my form is incomplete i tried the link its just blank really now government must jst stop playing with ppl we dobt hv money for data for this sides like this we not even sure ppl wil get those 350 come month end i wanna see ai

  19. I have filled out all necessary forms followed all steps accordingly to whatsapp, I was asked to check my status of the grant which I did so and it says it’s approved for March 2020 and gave me a ref/ID number, even supplied my bank details, it’s now June and I have not received any money.

  20. The other things I like to address is, R350. 00 for a whole month who can actually survive on that for a whole month what about those who has kids to feed and to get this amount for a. Whole month I don’t think that’s realistic.

  21. Gergna Nyoni Moleya on

    I dontt work or receive any grant but this R350 there no hope bcz no one tells. Feeed back

  22. I applied and got approved however the link the sent me is not working. I used Govchat this is all it says

    Here is your new OTP: *NotFound*

    This OTP will only be valid for *2 hours*

  23. Hi guys i think it’s a way of dealing (remember u would have goten this money for 6month but now we are not getting any feed back or the one time pin(OTP)is incorrect)they are just delaying the pay out so if u get u are lucky and yes mrs Zulu said that ther will be no back pay.

  24. how can they send me this link but does not dam work what do i do were do i go. It is so irretating to go through it again and again

  25. Andries Lefu Mofokeng on

    I m unemployed and have chronic and don’t have any income. I applied in May2020 and no reply please assist in getting back dated social relief funds ( R350).

  26. Khwinifhadzo Theodore Sadiki on

    Am not working am applied grant for R350 I don’t receive nothing antil now am trying to do appill but I don’t receive even messages

  27. I’m Nqabisa Benge from Cape Town khayelitsha town two the reason why I want the money I don’t work since long time ago and even to my house nobody is working sometimes we sleep without eating any food so please can you help cause I wanna satisfy my children’s with food this lock down caused a lot of pains in South Africa so I’m here to beg your help

  28. I don’t understand how it works, i have been trying to apply for social grant but it keep on saying application active and i’m not even done filling in my details

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