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Sassa, Ramaphosa say Social Relief of Distress payments will be made within the week

13 Jun 2022

A statement released on Monday by the South African Social Security Agency said ‘payments for the new cycle of the Covid-19 SRD grant (from April 2022) will be paid as from mid-June 2022. Sassa will continue clearing outstanding payments from the previous cycle as and when the bank details are confirmed’.

Outstanding payments of the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant, according to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), “will not be done together, but will be done month-by-month. Sassa will do these multiple payments in a month until the backlog is finalised, whereafter monthly payments will resume”.

Last week, Maverick Citizen reported that civil society organisations #PayTheGrants, Amandla.mobi, Black Sash, the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) and the Social Policy Initiative had raised the alarm that millions of poor people had not received their SRD grants for the months of April and May, which was causing massive mental health strain and financial anguish.

“People are desperate for the grant… As civil society we strongly condemn the lack of urgency to assist the vulnerable and [we are] considering how to hold the state to account to fulfil its constitutional obligations,” Black Sash spokesperson Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker told Maverick Citizen after Sassa’s announcement on resuming payments.

Responding to the state’s failure to pay SRD grants for two months, President Cyril Ramaphosa said after his Budget Vote speech last week: “I have now been given a report that they are going to start paying next week and they will be backdating because our people have been relying on this.”

After last week’s Cabinet meeting, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele said, “This government will always fulfil whatever undertaking it has [with regard to the SRD]. If there was a period of non-payment… on behalf of this government, we will make that apology. But as long as those SRDs are due, in line with the President’s commitment, they will be paid.”

In a comment to Maverick Citizen, South African Human Rights Commission chairperson Bongani Majola said: “The commission greatly regrets the delay of the payment of grants to the people who are facing hunger. We also regret that this is not the first time that people have complained about delays in the payment of their grants.

“However, we note the undertakings by government to effect payment as soon as possible and hope that the promised payments will be done without any further delays.”

In a series of tweets on Monday, IEJ co-founder Neil Coleman said that while the President’s undertaking that the grants would be paid this week was welcome, questions still remained.

“Will government reverse inadequate budget allocations & amend those aspects of the [Regulations] giving rise to the crisis in the first place?

“On the Regulations & administration of the Grant, there are multiple issues that either reverse the rights that previous beneficiaries had, or make it extremely difficult for the poor to access the Grant.

“These include: the ridiculously low means test of R350 which means many who previously accessed the grant, can no longer do so; very onerous requirements for people to apply, including providing new (& irrelevant) information, having to apply electronically through a complicated online system; withdrawal of the post office from payment of the grant.”

Abrahams-Fayker said: “We, together with other civil society organisations, have addressed correspondence to the office [of] the Presidency demanding an explanation of the status with grants and have requested a meeting.”  

She said the civil society organisations involved in the battle for people to receive their SRD grants are contemplating legal action should government renege on grant payments. DM/MC

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