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State told not to 'misuse' data from new Covid-19 grant recipients

The Black Sash says protecting the personal information of the new grant recipients is paramount.
The Black Sash says protecting the personal information of the new grant recipients is paramount.
Image: South African Gov‏ via Twitter

The protection of personal information of the vulnerable people who have applied for - and been approved for - the special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant should be paramount.

Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker, national advocacy manager at the Black Sash, said on Wednesday that there must be heightened vigilance against the possibility of any misuse of the personal information of grant applicants and beneficiaries.

"If personal information is compromised, it can be used to steal grant money or make unauthorised or unlawful deductions from social grants. This simply cannot be allowed to happen," Abrahams-Fayker said.

Abrahams-Fayker said the abuse of grant beneficiaries’ personal information was not a new phenomenon. She said with SA suffering from the economic devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, it was essential to make certain that beneficiaries received their grants in full.

"The intended recipient are the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society, and it is imperative they receive the relief meant for them. Protecting their personal information is an important way of ensuring this," she said.

Abrahams-Fayker made these remarks as the Black Sash and law firm Bowmans joined forces to launch a booklet to train paralegals, especially those working in rural areas, to advise social grant applicants and beneficiaries on their rights.

These rights include the protection of their personal information in the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) system.

Fatima Laher, head of pro bono at Bowmans, said the law firm considered the protection of social grant beneficiaries and their personal information to be a human rights matter of the utmost importance.

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