Grant recipients able to eat, but not for 30 days

By Nicola Daniels Time of article published Jul 28, 2021

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Cape Town - A little won’t go the distance of 30 days to feed entire families, but desperation leaves millions with no choice but to be grateful for anything they get.

This comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the government’s decision to reinstate the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant of R350, until March 2022.

This time the grant’s eligibility criteria has also been expanded to include unemployed caregivers who receive the Child Support Grant on behalf of children.

For Manenberg mother Valerie Olifant, 40, who has been unemployed for the past five years, this was the blessing she had been praying for as their household consists of 11 children and six adults, so every little would help.

“It’s tough because life is very expensive and here are many kids in the house. I apply for jobs, but they always say there are no vacancies. We basically survive from the support grant the children get, and it is not much. So the first time I tried for R350 in the hope that I would get it because it would make a difference for us, it’s an extra income that can cover food for a few days. We need to eat,” she said.

Another Manenberg resident, Elizabeth Cloete, 56, took the Cape Times through some of the basics she bought.

“I bought rice, bread, sugar, fish oil, potatoes and maybe a small packet of meat, so it won’t cover the whole month, but it’s something. The best part is when you go to the post office, after standing in the sun or rain all day, you come home with something to eat,” Cloete said.

Her husband, 60-year-old Dominic Cloete, assisted many people in their community with their applications.

“The people I helped didn't have access to apply, and some didn’t know how to do it. The process was quite simplified, but after it was completed they did not receive their money overnight. Also, the appeals process was not clear. They listed an email on the website and I sent many emails, but received no response. Eventually a young man came to me for assistance and told me he went to their offices and they showed him where to click for appeals on the website. The only other issue was the post office. The people would arrive in thousands just to be bullied and told only 150 will be assisted. The disappointment was devastating for many who went there with hope,” he said.

Meanwhile, Black Sash also released a report on Tuesday titled, “Social Protection in a Time of Covid. Lessons for Basic Income Support”.

It found that while the grant was helpful in a context of poverty and hunger, many eligible recipients were excluded as the programme was mired in a number of challenges.

“Overall, the grant was insufficient to alleviate the multiple hardships that individuals and households encountered on a day-to-day basis, exacerbated by the pandemic,” read the report.

It found that the online system was inaccessible for many; almost 68% of the Covid-19 SRD Grant recipients were men, and the South African Post Office (SAPO) did not process cash payments efficiently.

The organisation is advocating for a permanent social assistance amount for the unemployed pegged at the Upper Bound Poverty Line, currently R1 268.

Cape Times

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