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READER LETTER | Social relief grant falls short of needs

Beneficiaries of the the Covid-19 Social relief grant queuing outside the Mdantsane Post Office.
Beneficiaries of the the Covid-19 Social relief grant queuing outside the Mdantsane Post Office.
Image: Sino Majangaza

Reapplying for social relief of distress grants leaves desperate citizens confused, hungry and suspicious. When the national state of disaster was lifted on April 4, it became necessary for the grant provisions to be moved from the Disaster Management Act to the Social Assistance Act presided over by the social development department.

The Social Assistance Act had already made provision for social relief of distress, which is a constitutional right in terms of section 27(1)(c). However, according to the government, this required that millions of beneficiaries reapply for the grant, and it fell to the department, through Sassa, to ensure a smooth transition and payment of the grants.

There was no consultation with civil society when the government introduced more punitive restrictions on social assistance. The new R350 grant regulations not only exclude many people, but have caused distress and confusion for poor unemployed people.

Treasury's underfunding of the R350 grant has contributed to these draconian regulations, designed to make life even harder for those struggling to put food on the table. Sassa, the department and the presidency must be held accountable for failing to implement a R350 grant system that can be accessed quickly and timeously by those in need. What kind of society have we become when we think R350 is a luxury?

How much does the paltry R350 grant buy a household just in terms of groceries? It's not even enough to feed one person, never mind a person who has children. Solution: put the president and his whole cabinet on minimum wage. Damned fat cats have no conscience.

Bushy Green, Kagiso, Mogale City

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