By Kaya FM News
April 30 was the last day for applicants of the R350 social relief grant to collect monies.
And despite a number of rights groups calling for the government to extend the grant, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) says it has no mandate to extend the grant.
The grant was a temporary provision of assistance intended for people in need and was introduced last year.
The grant was further extended by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year for another three months but last week, the Agency announced the end of the grant.
R6.5m paid out each month
By January 2021, SASSA has paid out more than R6.5-million grants a month.
SASSA spokesperson, Sandy Godlwana, says no new applications would be accepted after this date. However, all applicants who have been approved and who have not yet received the money will still be paid.
She says those whose grants were declined between February and April, could appeal but if the appeal is not lodged, the declined application would not be reconsidered.
In an open letter to the President, the C-19 People’s Coalition, implored the government to extend the grant.
The Coalition says the SRD grants have been an important intervention that has helped millions of families put food on the table in a year of massive job losses and humanitarian crisis.
The group added that they were relieved when the grant was extended but were dissatisfied about the short extension until April 2021.
SA still far from herd immunity
They say this is clearly inadequate given that SA is still far from herd immunity and will experience the consequences of the pandemic for a long time to come.
“We are very concerned by the lack of a coherent response by the government to this humanitarian crisis. We find it difficult to understand why the government has failed to engage us on this critical issue. The exclusion of unemployed caregivers from the COVID-19 SRD grant, who are mostly black women and have borne the worst brunt of this pandemic is inexcusable.
“This is made worse by the increases in hunger, including child hunger, which the latest NIDS CRAM data clearly shows. As we gear up for a third wave of the pandemic we need to learn from past mistakes and prioritise social protection as a matter of urgency,” the group says.
Group slams “harsh” criteria for grant
In addition to appealing for a grant to be extended, the group has called for the unduly harsh and narrow criteria for accessing the grant to be reassessed and for caregivers to qualify for the grant regardless of whether or not they were receiving Support Grant on behalf of their children.
Adding their voice to the call, Black Sash called on the grant to be extended until a legislative and policy framework, with a secured budget, was put in place for the implementation of a Basic Income Grant.
Black Sash also called for the grant to be increased, adding that the grant is a lifeline for almost seven million recipients and their families.
Meanwhile, Godlwana says there is no official directive from the minister to implement an extension.