Plight of beneficiaries raised in a bid to extend Covid-19 distress grant after deadline
Cape Town - The plight of domestic workers, farmworkers and informal traders, were raised in calls for the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant to be extended, proven as a lifeline during the pandemic.
The Black Sash and #PayTheGrants hosted a virtual press conference on Thursday, concerning the SRD grant to come to an end today, Friday.
The special R350 grant was one of the major Covid-19 mitigating measures in place, as the country entered into a hard lockdown, later extended into 2021.
Countrywide protests are expected to take place today. #PayTheGrants Gauteng co-ordinator General Alfred Moyo said protests will start at 11am at several South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and post offices.
#PayTheGrants’ Shaeera Kalla said the conditions the grants were meant to ameliorate, has not changed.
Kalla and those present called for the grant to be extended, expanded and increased.
Faith-based organisations and several workers unions lent their support. Bishop Victor Phalana said the grant was used to also start small income-generating initiatives in townships and villages.
South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union general secretary Myrtle Witbooi said many domestic workers did not have the resources to access and apply for the grants.
Women on Farms Project (WOFP) director Colette Solomon said, female seasonal farmworkers, making up the majority of farmworkers, are employed from October to March, and rendered unemployed with no other form of income apart from the child support grant in some households.
“In research that Women on Farms undertook with UWC in 2019, we found that 88% of female seasonal farmer workers in the Northern Cape experience severe food insecurity during the off-season from April until till October when they are not employed and that pre-Covid-19, so it's a chronic situation of food insecurity, food shortages that farm workers experience.”
WOFP also joined others in calling for the grant to be increased to R585 - the food poverty line.
Black Sash National Advocacy Manager Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker said: “It is now just over a year later, the disaster still exists and the situation has worsened where the need for income support has increased, so there’s no rationale for the grant to end.”