Cape Town - Sassa in the Western Cape has said it is aware that the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant, introduced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, is not ideal, but that it is all the government can afford for the time being.
Acting regional executive manager Abraham Mahlangu said this during a briefing to the Social Development Department standing committee, where the topics discussed included the qualifying and assessment criteria for the grant, as well as the extension of the grant to April 2023.
Mahlangu was responding to a question from committee member Galil Brinkhuis (Al Jama-ah) who said that although the grant had been helpful in 2020, there had since been several price increases with regard to food, fuel, and taxi fares.
He asked whether these increases had been considered in the plans for extended payments?
Mahlangu said Sassa was restricted by the country’s poor economic conditions. He said he was aware that there were studies that showed the poverty line was now in the region of R600 a person, a month, but R350 was all the government could afford to provide for social relief.
Sassa had been invited by new committee chairperson Dan Plato, who welcomed the officials by reassuring them that they had not been summoned for a dressing down.
The committee also heard that temporary disability grant recipients would have to wait six months to renew their grants. Mahlangu said the delay was caused by an insufficient supply of medical personnel who could assess recipients.
Plato said this revelation was “profoundly disturbing” and that the fact that there was a six-month backlog for medical assessments meant grant beneficiaries, who were required to undergo reassessment, would not be able to do so until later in the year, and would not receive grants in the interim.
“This leaves some of the most vulnerable members of our society without the money they are entitled to, and on which they rely to buy the basic necessities,” he said.