Four months after the Covid-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grant for unemployed individuals was announced, scores of people have still not received their payouts.
The R350 grants were announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in April as part of the R500bn economic and social relief measures to support citizens during the pandemic. It was expected that qualifying individuals would receive the grant from May until October. However, this has not been the case for many people who are queuing at post offices to collect their share.
Franscina Mahlaba, a Soweto resident, is one of them. Mahlaba said she had made countless trips to at least three post offices with no luck.
“I have been told many things. Sometimes they say the money has not arrived, sometimes they cut [shorten] the queue or they say the systems are down, or no network,” she said.
This is despite receiving an SMS communication, seen by TimesLIVE, instructing her to collect the payout.
She said she has not received a single payout and is in the dark as to why.
“I don’t know what is happening as I have been going there [post office] so many times. I have called the call centre only to be told I was approved, but when I try to collect the money I am told a different story.
“I have lost hope now,” she said.
The 58-year-old further added that she lost her job as a domestic worker just before the lockdown started. She has not been able to make ends meet.
“It’s difficult, I can’t even borrow money because I don’t know when I will ever find a job or if I will ever get this grant.”
Lungile Gumede, who also applied for the grant in May, said she’d only received one payment.
“I was approved in June but only went to the post office in July. When I got there I received R350. I thought I’d receive for two months, but I was told that is not how it works.”
Dumisani Mbhele said he was furious that his application was declined, for reasons unknown to him. “I have never been formally employed or received UIF money. I still don’t understand why my application was denied. When I asked, I was told to appeal, but they have not responded.”
Mbhele suspects foul play.
“We have been hearing many things, some people get their money, some don’t. They want us to give up and it can go back to them,” he said.
Nontokozo Mbanjwa was more fortunate, receiving a payout of R1,050 in a lump-sum payment for three months, on Monday.
“I was really shocked because everyone has been complaining. But I am happy that I was able to cover some of [my] debt.” Mbanjwa hailed the government for “making a plan for the poor”, saying the payout came in handy for her as she did odd jobs.
“It is not much but it helps a lot. The government could have left us to suffer but they made a plan,” she said.
While the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) allows for recipients to receive their payouts directly into their bank accounts, many were reluctant, citing bank charges and debit orders.
Attempts to reach Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi for comment were unsuccessful.
Minister of social development Lindiwe Zulu was expected to host a briefing on Wednesday. However, the briefing was postponed to a date yet to be announced.
Nonkululeko Njilo – TimesLIVE