R13.5 billion spent in grants to more than six million beneficiaries

Lindiwe Zulu
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Social Development Department and its entities the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the National Development Agency (NDA) say COVID-19 has had a markedly adverse impact on the social welfare of the country.

The ministry briefed the media in Pretoria on the department’s social relief measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, on the implementation of the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant, status of transfer of payments to non-profit organisations, food relief and an update on the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme and an update on departmental facilities such as old age homes.

The department says through the Intersectoral Forum’s plans to address challenges in the Early Childhood Development it will be allocated stimulus relief package of more than R5.8 million to its 52 185 ECD centres.

Social Relief of Distress Grant

Regarding the Social Relief of Distress Grant,  Minister Lindiwe Zulu says to date government has disbursed R13.5 billion to more than six million eligible beneficiaries since the start of payment of R350.

Social relief of distress is a temporary provision of assistance intended for persons in such dire material need that they are unable to meet their or their families’ most basic needs. Zulu says it is pleasing that the grant has been extended.

“We are pleased with the government’s decision to extend the provision of this grant for a further three months until 31 January 2021. Of the 9.5 million applications processed in November, over 6.9 million applications were approved and already paid. We are currently processing applications for December and we intend to process payments before the last week of this month. Of these payments, SAPO accounts for 4 million, 1.6 million are paid through personal accounts.”

Outstanding payments

Meanwhile, Social Security Agency (Sassa) Chief Executive Officer, Totsie Memela, says regarding people who have not received their payment in the social relief of distress grant, process is underway to ensure that they get their monies.

“We have actually given all the names of the people that we have not been able to trace to the regions so that the regions can actually go and find the people in the different areas. It’s important to highlight that some of the people that have not gone to get their money; some of the money is actually at the post office. We’ve sent people number of smses and they have not gone to get their money.”

Food parcels
The department says the demand for food relief increased during the lockdown period. Zulu says lessons were learnt in addressing food shortage. This is as there were many reports of allegations of corruption in relation to food parcel provision.

Zulu says this lesson will be used to improve how food parcels are distributed in the future.

“To address this the portfolio has disbursed 1.4 million food parcels that benefited over 7.1 million people throughout the country and we’ve been here already with regard to who supplies what, where and how and there were many lessons that were learnt during this period which we are going to be able to use to try and improve our system. We are also grateful for many corporate and charity organisations that partnered with us to ensure no child or family goes to bed hungry during this period.”

Minister Lindiwe Zulu briefs the media: 

Gender-based violence

Zulu further says the department will be implementing 365 Days of Programme of Action aimed at dealing with the scourge of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide.

She says the department intends to table a bill intended to advocate for victim-centred approach in dealing with GBVF.

“The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children ended yesterday. The Department is implementing the 365 Programme of Action, with the focus on expanding prevention and expansion of services to ensure survivors receive timely and appropriate services to avoid secondary victimisation. The department is currently consolidating public inputs received for the Victim Support Services Bill, which advocates for a victim-centred approach.”

The department will tomorrow launch an annual anti-substance abuse festive campaign, focusing on COVID-19 and GBVF hotpots throughout the country in Tlokwe, North West tomorrow during the official opening of the JB Marks Treatment Centre.”

Gender-based violence stats in SA: