A “huge demand for food parcels” during South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown has led the social development department to develop a “new system” to “verify individuals that qualify”, claims a Facebook post from 13 April 2020.
It says people who want to apply for food parcels must either call or send a WhatsApp message or a “please call me” text to one of two phone numbers.
A WhatsApp version, which we received on 13 April, says applicants must send their personal information – full name, ID number, employment status and contact details – to the numbers.
“The names and details of the applicant will then be screened and verified with SASSA to ascertain if the individual qualifies to receive food parcels,” says the post.
South Africa’s lockdown to control the Covid-19 outbreak is set to last until at least 30 April. Everyone in the country, except essential workers, must stay at home and only go out “under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant”.
Message, contact details not from Sassa
The Facebook post is signed “Office of the Speaker” but doesn’t give a name or contact details. It also doesn’t say which department or agency the “speaker” is from.
And neither of the phone numbers given in the Facebook post appear on the official list of head and regional contacts on Sassa’s website.
Call 0800 601 011 toll-free
Africa Check asked Kgomoco Diseko, Sassa’s senior manager of media relations, about the post. She said the process described was false.
“To apply for social relief of distress, one has to call the Sassa toll-free number 0800 601 011 and choose option 3,” Diseko said. The number is also given on Sassa’s website and its Facebook and Twitter pages.
Sassa has warned against false information and false relief forms circulating social media.
On 4 April it tweeted: “SASSA does not accept online applications for social relief of distress in the form of food parcels. Applications can only be made through the call centre 0800601011 or joint operation centres. Please Ignore the form circulating on social media as it was not placed by SASSA.”
SASSA does not accept online applications for social relief of distress in the form of food parcels. Applications can only be made through the call centre 0800601011 or joint operation centres. Please Ignore the form circulating on social media as it was not placed by SASSA
— SASSA (@OfficialSASSA) April 4, 2020
The Facebook post is false. There is no “new system” for food parcel distribution. – Naledi Mashishi
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