Social grant increase welcomed but not enough, say residents

Sassa cards.

News that social grant beneficiaries will receive an increase for the next six months was mostly welcomed by those who spoke to Northern News. 

However, there was concern that this would still not be enough to help people survive.

Addressing the nation on Tuesday April 21, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is set to pay out an extra R300 to each child support grant beneficiary in May and an extra R500 from June to October.

All other grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R250 a month for the next six months.

Those who are unemployed or did not receive any form of social grant, will receive R350 for the next six months. 

President Ramaphosa said they are directing R50 billion towards relieving the plight of those most affected by the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Janine Fortuin, 28, from Kuils River, welcomed the increase and said her two children will be happy to see more food in the cupboard. 

“I am grateful for this increase, life will be a bit better now.”

She said her father is the breadwinner in their household while her grant covers the monthly basic needs of her children.

Vanessa Simon, 29, from Kraaifontein, says the money being offered is a good idea but still not enough to feed her family of eight. 

“I only receive money for three of my six kids, their dad supports the rest of them. Some months we still struggle to have something to eat because he doesn’t earn enough,” she said. 

Cashwell Babers, who squats on a pavement in Scottsdene, says unemployment is rife among the nine families living with him there and fears the grant will not be enough.

“We are helping each other. If someone has money we will all benefit from it by buying meat and making a big pot of food and sharing with one another. We have been doing this and will continue to do so with the little we’ve got.”

Louis Botha of Scottsville said he encourages beneficiaries to stock up on essential goods instead of “unnecessary luxuries”. 

“With the ban of cigarettes and alcohol still in place, many are forced to buy food with their payouts but it’s the drugs that seem to be another problem, I am concerned that the grants will be used for the wrong things,” he said. 

Beverly Strauss, from Brackenfell, wants to know where the money “suddenly” comes from. 

“I am sure that every South African was under the impression that the country does not have money but a pandemic needs to happen and prove us different.”

She hopes beneficiaries will use the money to buy essential goods and look after their families.

President Ramaphosa said: “The impact of the coronavirus requires an extraordinary budget – of around R500 billion – to direct resources towards fighting the pandemic. This will include the reprioritisation of around R130 billion within the current budget. The rest of the funds will be raised from both local sources, such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and from global partners and international finance institutions. To date, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, BRICS New Development Bank and the African Development Bank have been approached and are working with the National Treasury on various funding transactions. Some of these institutions have created financing packages that are aimed at assisting countries that are having to address the coronavirus crisis like us.”