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Concern over low number of relief applications in N Cape

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Less than 800 applications have been received.

CONCERN has been expressed at the low number of applications received from Northern Cape residents for Social Relief of Distress (SRD), with less than 800 applications received.

During a parliamentary briefing on Thursday last week, The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) reported that as at April 15, 2020, only 797 applications for SRD in the Province were received and approved, with only 145 of those having been issued.

This is according to the DA Northern Cape NCOP member, Delmain Christians, who pointed out that this number was way too low.

“Last year’s statistics indicated that over 57% of households in the Northern Cape were already, to some degree, dependent on social grants before the coronavirus pandemic. Obviously, that number has now increased substantially.”

Christians called on the Department of Social Development (DSD) to ensure that all grants are prioritised amidst the roll-out of Covid-19 relief, pointing out that a number of disability grant beneficiaries, who stopped receiving their grants almost six months ago due to the ongoing non-availability of a doctor to assist with their grant renewals, continued to be left in the lurch.

“We have been approached by at least five people living in Delportshoop, whose grants were suspended late last year, pending a visitation by a doctor to do an evaluation and complete and renew their grant applications. The DA reported the matter in November last year, and again reiterated our call for an intervention in February 2020. To date, however, there has been no progress in terms of getting help for the affected beneficiaries.”

He stated that given the added burden of the Covid-19 lockdown, which had ushered in greater loss of income for families, the situation was now dire. “The affected beneficiaries cannot take care of themselves, let alone of their families who depend on them to put food on the table. They are starving and some of them are barely mobile.”

He said further that appeals for food parcel assistance had also not amounted to anything.

“The DA is calling on the Northern Cape DSD to simultaneously prioritise the renewal of expired grants that could not be processed due to administrative hold-ups, like in the case of Delportshoop, that are out of the control of the beneficiaries. At the same time, we plead with the government to speed up the social relief programme in the Province. A lot more also needs to be done to create more awareness of the actual application process and to make it more accessible to families, especially those living in rural areas and those who do not have any means of connectivity.”

Christians stated that never before has it been as necessary for the DSD to ensure that all grant and additional relief packages are distributed as efficiently and effectively as possible. “More lives than ever before are counting on this.”