People queue for grants. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA)
People queue for grants. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA)

Black Sash opposes end of special Covid-19 R500 care-giver grant

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Oct 30, 2020

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Pretoria - As the special Covid-19 R500 care-giver grant is due to come to an end this weekend, the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria will today be asked to interdict the government from stopping this special dispensation.

The Black Sash Trust, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (Cals), has urgently approached the court in an effort to protect the right to social security,

SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) confirmed a week ago that top-up amounts for social grants implemented during the pandemic have come to an end.

The application is made against Sassa and the Social Development and Finance ministers.

Last week, Sassa confirmed on its Twitter account that all the top-up amounts, including the caregiver grant, had come to an end.

According to its message, this included additional amounts for social grants (old age, disability, child support, foster child and care dependency). From November 1 the government grants will go back to pre-Covid amounts and there will be no extension to this social relief, despite the fact that the pandemic continues as does the social and economic impact of lockdown.

The Black Sash Trust said it was approaching the court on an urgent basis to challenge this decision.

It will argue that the caregiver grant is a vital measure needed to assist the most vulnerable people in the country through an unprecedented period of distress.

The trust said the additional amount was closely linked to the current state of disaster and cannot come to an end until the disaster itself does, or until the effects of the disaster on society have been addressed.

“We believe the government is fully aware that these difficulties have not come to an end, given that payment of the special R350 Covid-19 social relief of distress grant has been extended.”

“As we understand it, this top-up is a new form of social security that cannot come to an end until the state of disaster is lifted or the devastating impacts of the pandemic have been reversed,” Ariella Scher, an attorney at Cals, said.

Lynette Maart, national director of the Black Sash Trust, said more than 7million beneficiaries of the caregiver grant, of which 98% are women, will be denied relief from the social and economic hardship and suffering brought on by the pandemic - all while the national state of disaster remains firmly in place.

She stated in court papers that the trust has since October 12 sought clarity from the government on whether the top up monies, regarding caregivers’ grants in particular, would be paid beyond the end of October.

The government did not respond but instead announced via its official Twitter account that it would end this weekend.

It will be argued before Judge Nana Makhubele that the state is responsible for assisting families to meet their socio-economic needs when they are unable to do so owing to structural historical and social forces and that the termination of the caregivers’ grant goes against this obligation.

While Sassa and the finance ministry indicated that they will oppose the application, their opposing papers were not available by late yesterday.

Pretoria News

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