There was a protest outside the Bellville, Sassa offices over the termination of the Covid-19 SRD grant on April 30. Picture Leon Lestrade. African News Agency/ANA.
There was a protest outside the Bellville, Sassa offices over the termination of the Covid-19 SRD grant on April 30. Picture Leon Lestrade. African News Agency/ANA.

Black Sash demands return of Sassa special grant amid third wave concerns

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published May 11, 2021

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Cape Town - Black Sash has called for the immediate reinstatement of the temporarily suspended Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, citing fears of the ravages of a possible third wave of the pandemic.

As part of government’s measures to prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19, Sassa was initially mandated to provide the grant from May 2020 to October 2020. This was further extended to January 2021 and April 2021 respectively.

The grant was terminated on April 30 while Sassa awaits approval to utilise funds from the previous financial year.

Back payments have also been suspended leading to fears that this could have dire consequences for beneficiaries.

Black Sash national director Lynette Maart said: “The government must reinstate the Covid-19 SRD grant. A third wave is becoming a reality since infections are increasing and mass vaccinations are yet to begin.

“This is the second time in recent weeks that Sassa has apologised for payment delays. But Covid-19 SRD grant beneficiaries often suffered the undignified experience of late payments. They have been a perennial problem even prior to the government's new financial year.”

According to the Black Sash, the grant was the only means to put food on the table for about 6.9 million South Africans.

Meanwhile, Sassa has confirmed that payment will be made for all approved grants as soon as confirmation of funding is finalised, and apologized to all unpaid clients of the special Covid-19 SRD grant for any inconvenience the suspension has caused.

Sassa provincial spokesperson Shivani Wahab said: “Even after the grant has ended, payments will be made to those deserving approved clients.

“Payment may not necessarily be a double payment / lump sum/ paid out on the same day. It may be split over days or weeks.”

At the same time, Western Cape Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez, has appealed to the national Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, to intervene with the grant to avert a potential humanitarian crisis.

"As part of the provincial government’s recovery plan, the department has made an additional R25 million available for food relief programmes, to broaden the existing nutritional safety net.

“I am concerned that thousands of vulnerable people will find themselves without any form of state support as a result of the ending of the special grant on April 30.”

Cape Argus

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