Thousands of South Africans rely heavily on the government’s Covid-19 social relief grants. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).
Thousands of South Africans rely heavily on the government’s Covid-19 social relief grants. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).

Civil society fears spike in GBV cases if government cuts Covid-19 relief funds

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Oct 12, 2020

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Durban – A move by government to cut Covid-19 relief funding could lead to a spike in gender-based violence cases.

This is according to former public protector Thuli Madonsela, who joined several civil society organisations across the country in pleading with the government to continue providing the much-needed R350 Social Relief of Distress grant as well as the R585 monthly grant to caregivers.

Speaking during a media briefing on Monday, Madonsela said if the government planned to withdraw the grant, “we need to push them as women and girls would bear the brunt”.

"We know that when there is distress that women and girls will pay the price as they bear the burden of care," she said.

Madonsela said funding could be pulled from other spheres to accommodate for the payments of these grants.

Alluding to the exorbitant costs of security staff for government officials, she said the issue should be re-visited as South Africa was not the most dangerous country in Africa, therefore there was no need for such an excessive amount of security.

"We do not want women to pay for government's mistakes," she said.

On Sunday, several civil organisations called for the government to continue the paying out the grants until a comprehensive plan for guaranteed basic outcomes was established.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the organisations highlighted the need for the grants and how they had helped to put food on the table for millions of South Africans who live well below the poverty line.

According to researcher Ihsaan Bassier, at least 5 million people will be pushed to extreme poverty if the grants are withdrawn.

"Furthermore, while jobs and a recovery plan is crucial, this will take time and there needs to be cushion in the meantime. The grants were meant to address the Covid crisis and this is far from over. Also, this is an opportunity to reach commitment to eliminate extreme poverty," he said.

The full statement can be read here:

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