The social security agency – SASSA – says millions of South Africans have been applying for the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant.

Since the process opened two weeks ago, more than 9.7 million people applied nationwide.

Officials from the agency appeared before the province’s standing committee on Social Development this week.

They briefed the committee on the application process, and the qualifying and assessment criteria.

As of March, there were more than 1.2 million recipients in the province.

SASSA’s provincial general manager, Sibusiso Nhlangothi, says the high number of applications indicates that more people are in need of help.

“That should tell you the problem we are facing in South Africa, if we take into account the population of South Africa – and 10 million already are applying for this type of grant. It’s a serious problem that, as a government department, we need to be aware of.”

Meanwhile, executive director, Abraham Mahlangu, confirms that the grants won’t be available at some Post Office branches.

“That has been very much of a pain on our flesh – in terms of [the] inability of the South African Post Office to continue with certain branches, to get them operational. But what we are trying to do… is to try and make sure we divert our customers, through communication, to the nearest available points.”