R350 Social relief grant a lifeline for those with no income

Siphokazi Mafa cannot wait for the Covid-19 unemployment grant which she says will go a long way in helping her and her family put food on the table.

Mafa, 44, lives with her partner and their three children in a shack in Makause informal settlement, in Germiston. She is unemployed and so is he.

When Sowetan visited her home yesterday, she was sitting keeping an eye on steam bread cooking on a burning paraffin stove.

"I had some flour and I cooked steam bread for supper. My partner has to figure out with what we are going to eat that bread. I have done my part."

Her partner Vuyo Kesi makes a living by playing dice - a game which has become the only hope for the family.

Mafa does not even know how much Kesi makes. She only knows that he has made some money when she sees him bringing groceries into their home.

In the morning, Mafa had R10 to her name and she used it to buy fat cakes which her family ate for breakfast.

"We don't eat lunch. Once we have breakfast, our next meal is supper," she said.

Mafa is seven months pregnant with her fifth child and is not receiving any grant from the state.

Her first born lives with her grandmother back in Mthatha, Eastern Cape.

"I lost my ID in 2007. When I applied for a new one home affairs informed me that I was married to a man I did not know. I have been trying to resolve this issue for years. It was only last year that I finally got a new ID. This has had a devastating impact on my chances to get social grants for my children," Mafa said.

When the lockdown began in March, Mafa had just applied for a social grant.

Two of her children, aged 11 and 12, are both not at school as she only brought them to Johannesburg at the beginning of the year and was unable to find a school. A third child, who is six, goes to an early childhood development centre.

Since the lockdown began things have been tough.

"We are struggling to have food. It is serious. I heard people talking about the grant but they said it was only for men. I asked myself how can that be . The R350 will really help in my family. It will help a lot."

Sowetan tried to help Mafa apply for the grant but the system gave a service error.

Mafa's neighbour Dominic Dlamini is facing a similar predicament.

Dlamini, 54, survives on piece jobs which have been hard to come by during the lockdown.

To get food during the lockdown, Dlamini has been forced to sell his clothes and even some of his furniture.

On Sunday, he was lucky, a man was giving away rice in Primrose and he was on the spot to receive it.

He then went to ask for spinach from a neighbour who sells it in the neighbourhood and had a decent meal.

"My situation is bad. I need food .The grant would really help. People who normally give me piece jobs don't want me at the moment because they are at home," he said.

His children, aged 18, 20 and 27, live with their grandmother in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal. He lives alone in the shack.

Sowetan tried to help Dlamini to apply on his phone but the system gave a message: "Welcome to Covid-19 SRD application. Due to high call volume, please try again later."

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