Sassa brings relief for families in distress during Covid-19 lockdown – Lowvelder


MBOMBELA – The 21-day lockdown period that was imposed to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus is severely impacting households with no breadwinners, the unemployed and citizens in the lower income brackets.
James Mnisi (not his real name), an unemployed single father who lives at home with his mother and son, was asked why he constantly flouted the social-distancing measures.
“I have a child. If I stay at home and do not go out to sell avocados every day, I will deprive him of a plate of food. I would like to stay at home, but I simply cannot do it,” Mnisi said.
There are many who are in the same boat during the lockdown, subsisting on donations from friends or relying on other ways to earn some money to keep food on the table.

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According to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) Mpumalanga spokesperson, Senzeni Ngubeni, the agency is set to introduce a Social Relief of Distress (SRD) aid packet to assist families in need.
“Social Relief of Distress is the temporary provision of assistance intended for persons in such dire need that they are unable to meet their family’s most basic needs.”
SRD is paid to South African citizens, permanent residents or refugees who have insufficient means, are resident in South Africa and meet one or more of the following criteria:
1. The applicant is awaiting payment of an approved social grant
2. The breadwinner of that household has been found medically unfit to undertake remunerative work for a period of less than six
3. The breadwinner of the household is deceased and the application is made within 12 months of the date of death
4. The breadwinner of that household has been admitted to a public or private institution for a period of at least one month
5. The applicant has been affected by disaster as defined in the Disaster Management Act or the Fundraising Act of 1978.

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Ngubeni said assistance is issued monthly for a maximum period of three months, which could be extended to three more months in exceptional cases. He stipulated that people receiving social grants may not receive the SRD and the social grant at the same time.
In cases where a beneficiary is found to have received both, they will be required to repay the value of the SRD received.
“This will be recovered from any social-grant payment, including arrears. However, the funds will not be recouped when a person, who is in receipt of a social grant, received the SRD as a result of a disaster.”
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Ngubeni continued to outline the Sassa guideline for the SRD in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Any person who is experiencing undue hardship can apply, for example, persons who are not formally employed. They may be selling at the market, car guards, parents who cannot provide food for their children as prior to the lockdown they were benefiting from early-childhood development centres, drop-in centres, and temporary workers such as gardeners and domestic workers.”
Applicants need to contact their local Sassa office so that their applications can be finalised telephonically.
“In the event that they run out of money, a Sassa official will contact them and facilitate the process.
“A list of the applicants and their application forms will then be sent to our regional office to nominate a supplier from our existing contracted service providers,” he concluded.

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