While communities have welcome the reinstatement of the R350 social relief grant, many say it is too little and does not go far enough to cover their basic needs.

On Sunday night, during an address to the nation on government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the grant will be paid out till March 2022 and will now include unemployed caregivers.

The president also said that uninsured businesses that were looted in the recent civil unrest will also be assisted to rebuild.

Nthabi Ngwebelele, the manager of a complex opposite the Maponya Mall in Soweto, showed SABC News some of the destruction caused by the mobs that looted and destroyed the property during the recent civil unrest.

The complex comprised a wellness centre, a supermarket, a pub, and a hardware store. Now, most of it has been reduced to empty shells.  Some of it was never insured.

“It is really a nightmare because it is new things that we have just started especially the grocery shop, the pub, the wellness centre. We were going to put it into the insurance, because we did not know this will happen” says Ngwebelele.

Ngwebelele is relieved that government will set aside funds to help uninsured businesses that were affected by the violence.

“We really welcome that and we did not know that the president will say that. We are very happy; we welcome that from the president,” she adds.

Adekunle Adeyemi operated a car dealership on Jules Street in Malvern.

During the unrest, about 22 vehicles were burnt to ashes.  He had not insured his business because, he says, no insurance wants to insure businesses on Jules Street because the area is considered high risk due to several attacks on properties, especially at the height of the xenophobic attacks.  He is hoping that businesses owned by foreign nationals will receive government assistance as well.

“Now my worry is that maybe there will be an extended hand to all the businesses, either you are a foreigner, or you are a South African citizen. I can tell you since this thing happened, I have not been a human being. Is like somebody is alive but is not breathing, we can’t sleep at night you think where I am going to start. We will be very happy if Mr president can be able to count us in, generalise everybody without any segregation” says Adeyemi.

President Ramaphosa also announced that government will be reinstating the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant, which will be paid out until the end of March next year.

Those eligible to receive the grant will include unemployed caregivers who currently receive a child support grant.

Soweto pensioner, Bella Matshele, says whilst this is welcomed, the money is not enough.

“We appreciate what the president said, I still feel that the 350 is too little. I so wish they can increase it to up to R500. With the 350 you have to pay electricity, buy water and after that there is nothing that is left. Since this COVID everything is expensive. We used to buy a loaf of bread for R14 now, we are paying R16. We really appreciate but it is too little” says Matshele.

Advocacy group, Black Sash, shares Matshele’s sentiments.  The group has been advocating for the grant to be made a permanent feature.

The group’s Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker says: “We are however concerned that the grant was not increased from R350 to at least the food poverty line of R585. Black Sash will continue to advocate for the increase of the grant but also for the implementation of permanent social assistance for the unemployed between 18 and 59-years.”

Ramaphosa reinstates R350 social grant: