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Social grant recipients want more money

Nozwatu Dinana of Makause informal settlement in Germiston says getting the Covid-19 relief grant could have helped her financial pressure./PENWELL DLAMINI
Nozwatu Dinana of Makause informal settlement in Germiston says getting the Covid-19 relief grant could have helped her financial pressure./PENWELL DLAMINI

Beneficiaries of social grants and homeless people living in shelters believe they should not have been excluded from the Covid-19 R350 relief grant as they are also facing serious financial strain.

On Monday, the government opened applications for the R350 grant to all people who are unemployed, have no income and do not receive any other funding from the state.

Nozwatu Dinana, 49, of Makause informal settlement in Germiston on the East Rand, is one of the people who wished she could also benefit.

"The grant money I received for the children was used to buy winter clothes for the children and it got finished. Now, I have to scramble to get something to eat for the family every single day," said Dinana.

She receives grants for two of her three children. She works as a domestic worker and her boss has asked her not to come to work until the end of the lockdown.

The government announced that for this month, R300 will be added to the child grant, bringing the total to R740 per child.

But from June until October, this will go back to R440 per child but each caregiver will get an additional R500, regardless of the number of children they receive a grant for.

Those already receiving social grants and those residing in shelters run by the government during the lockdown are not eligible to apply for the relief fund. During the pilot phase of the Covid-19 grant, Sassa said it had received almost 350,000 applications through WhatsApp and email but only 200,000 were eligible.

Almost 150,000 applications were rejected as the people were already receiving some form of social grants.

Sassa CEO Busisiwe Memela-Khambula said the people applying were not chance-takers but genuinely in need but they were not eligible for further relief.

Jackie Momako, 33, who is at a temporary homeless shelter at the Lyttleton Sports Park in Centurion, said they were told they would not be getting the grant.

"They told us that we can only get benefits while we are in this shelter and not cash. We didn't argue with them as we were just asking. They said if they give us the R350 we are going to run away from here."

Momako said the government should not consider giving them the grant as their current financial state was keeping them in the shelter.

"If they give us the money I can tell you none of these people will be here by the end of the day," he said.

"They are assisting us to clean ourselves from this nyaope in here. They give us medication so that we don't get the craving. So, once they give us that money most of the people here will relapse."

But, another resident at the shelter, Koketso Makonde, 24, said the government should not exclude them as the grant could help them buy necessities such as shoes and clothing.

"It's cold my brother. I've never been in a more colder place. Town is cold but it's worse here. So, we need that money to buy ourselves clothes and shoes. Look at my shoes," he said pointing at his torn red sneakers with no shoelaces.

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