Durban – Informal businesses from KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng that were affected by the mass scale looting and destruction of property during the civil unrest in July received R10 million in a social relief grant from the department of Small Business Development, according to Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Ndabeni-Abrahams, who was minister of Communications and Digital Technologies at the time of the unrest, said businesses received a capped amount of R3 000. She said nobody has complained about the amount being too little.
A total of 785 applications for the grant was received at the due date which was in September, the minister told the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), during a virtual address on Friday.
The commission questioned Ndabeni-Abrahams at its probe into the violation of human rights during the civil unrest, where more than 350 people lost their lives and billions in damages was caused to the country’s economy as big business warehouses and infrastructure was affected.
The minister said the criteria for the grant needed cooperation at a municipal level, which required informal traders to submit their relevant documentation in order to receive the grant.
The commission will be furnished with a list of businesses that were given the grant and also what area they operate in, Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
Riots broke out in KZN shortly after the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma, who was sentenced to a 15 month term at Estcourt Prison, following a judgment by the Constitutional Court. The protest spread to parts of Gauteng as well.
During the unrest period, which according to police was from July 9 to July 15, South African cabinet ministers held various meetings about ways to resolve the crisis and find a root cause.
The commission’s Advocate Buang Jones asked Ndabeni-Abrahams if she was aware of the conflicting reports from the cabinet as to whether or not the event of July was an insurrection. The minister said it was concerning that there were “mixed signals”.
With various witness testimonies affirming that the country’s most vulnerable groups were mobilised and exploited during the unrest, Jones asked the minister if she resonated with the ideology of radical economic transformation (RET).
“The idea of radical socio-economic transformation resonates so well with me as the minister responsible for a sector that must transform the economy. Therefore I have no choice, it’s not a personal matter only, I also have an obligation to make sure that I fulfil that which has been enshrined to me by the constitution on the mandate of this department and the national development plan that is our bible in this government,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.