At the heart of SA's social grant crisis are real people who are dependent on the money for their survival. File picture: Independent Media
Johannesburg - Marie Pule sat in front of the converted mine hostel where she lives in Dobsonville, Soweto.

She washes laundry in a tub a few metres from where illegal miners' mud-covered jeans and boots lie, a sign of the area’s struggle in living below the poverty line.

Pule spoke of the social grant on which she survives and expressed relief when she heard the grant payments would not stop.

The Constitutional Court handed down judgment Friday, ordering the SA Social Security Agency and Cash Paymaster Services to extend its contract for another year.

This brought relief to the more than 17 million recipients.

Many of Dobsonville’s residents need social grants to survive and they shared similar stories to Pule, 67.

The crumbling hostels have no electricity, so many must save for paraffin and candles while juggling competing costs such as food and children’s education.

“What can you do with R1 500?” Pule asked. “No, it’s not enough.”

She gets an additional R350 a month for taking care of her granddaughter after her mother died. Pule said a month of taxi fares to and from school costs R500, and she needs to provide money daily for lunches.

“If the grants stopped, it would be a problem. I’m old, nobody would give me a job,” she said.

A neighbour sat nearby, tubs of laundry at her feet. She washed the clothes of three grandchildren, a niece, a daughter and herself.

She said she is allocated R3 000 to care for all six and did not have an answer for what she would do if the grant stopped.

Wendy Zutani’s grandchild bounced on her lap. Zutani, 49, and unemployed, is given R1 050 a month for her three children. It costs R800 for two teenagers to get to and from school every month.

However, she is determined to figure out a way to survive on the remainder because of the importance she places on her children’s education.

“I want them to go to school so they can take us out of this place and start a better life,” Zutani said.

Bricks are falling out of her building’s walls, and her one-roomed flat serves as evidence of the meagre money she receives.

Many residents explained that they had not been informed about the potential crisis.

One resident even thanked Minister Bathabile Dlamini, who has been blamed for her part in the debacle, for fixing the situation.

“We really don’t know what’s happening. We just know that if the grants stop at the end of the month, we will starve,” Zutani said.

Saturday Star