Covid-19 social relief grant stopped despite pleas
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Cape Town - Despite impassioned pleas for the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant to be extended, the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has confirmed that the grant has been terminated.
Human rights organisation Black Sash and pressure campaign #PayTheGrants demanded that the government extend the special Covid-19 relief funding, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues its devastating toll on individuals and families.
Nationwide protests against the termination of the grants took place at several Sassa offices and post offices.
Protest organiser at Bellville Sassa, Bravo Thompson, said: “No one felt happy about the grants being terminated. It's bad because, at the end of the day, how do you cancel something that is people’s livelihood or maybe food? All the people are sick and tired of the government not giving them something to eat.”
Sassa confirmed that the SRD grants had been terminated as of Friday, April 30.
“This means that no new applications will be accepted after this date. However, all applications which have been approved and approved applicants who have not yet received payment will still be paid,” said Sassa spokesperson Shivani Wahab.
Some of the demands made by Black Sash and #PayTheGrants prior to the termination included that the Covid-19 SRD grant be extended until it was turned into a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG); the grant be increased to the Food Poverty Line (R585); the grant be expanded to unemployed adults receiving the Child Support Grant on behalf of children; the criteria for the SRD grant be reassessed and its administration improved; and the BIG be implemented for those aged 18 to 59, to at least the Upper-Bound Poverty Line (R1 268).
“While the government's wall of silence on this matter leading up to and on the day of termination itself was both heartbreakingly callous and enraging, it was not unexpected. And in that, we mobilised our efforts on a clear internal understanding that, regardless of what happened on the 30th, it was only the next step of many in this campaign,” said C-19 People's Coalition’s Nathan Taylor on behalf of #PayTheGrants.
“Our campaign members continue their important work around research into the feasibility modelling of a basic income, while legal avenues regarding the constitutional and international obligations that the government is flouting will be potentially explored,” he said.