Covid-19 grant beneficiaries hoping for a miracle

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  • The Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant is due to end on 31 January.
  • But beneficiaries interviewed in Makhanda on Wednesday morning are hoping against hope that government will extend it.
  • Queuing in the rain in front of the post office, beneficiaries explained how the R350-per-month grant had helped them.

In the long queues outside the Joza Post Office in Makhanda in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday morning, beneficiaries of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant are hoping for a miracle.

The R350-per-month grant is due to end on 31 January and has been paid out to over six million people. But beneficiaries of the grant are holding out hope that the government will make a plan to extend it, GroundUp reported.

READ | 'Auntie, there's no money in here': Sassa beneficiaries sleep on pavements to apply for grants

Lungisa Xhanti, 53, was still standing in the long queue in the rain at about 10:30 after arriving at 06:35.

"You can see from the fact that huge numbers of people don't care about this rainy weather that they desperately need this money. The reason for this is the high unemployment rate in this country. These long queues are not just happening here in Makhanda. This is the same all over the country. Some people are sleeping here in the post office just to make sure that they are the first ones to get the money in the morning. If people were not that desperate for this money, they wouldn't sleep here or stand in the rain for hours," Xhanti said.

"Government needs to think deeply about this. I'm one of those who will be sitting at home without hope after this grant," Xhanti added.

Lizole Skadeni, 21, and Asanda Klaas, 19, stood patiently in the rain without umbrellas.

Beneficiaries of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant queued for hours in the rain at the Post Office in Makhanda. The grant is due to come to an end on 31 January.

Skadeni said he lives with his parents and had passed matric in 2018. But he was unable to further his studies due to financial constraints.

"I have been getting this grant since last year and it is helping a lot at home. My parents are working but the money they get is not enough. I know the money is coming to an end this month and this is the last payment we're getting. I'm going to search for a job because there is no hope that it will be extended," Skadeni said.

'Grant made a huge difference'

Klaas said she matriculated in 2019 but could not study further because her parents were struggling. "The grant made a huge difference and I was happy when it was introduced. It is going to leave a huge gap in our lives."

Phumelele Nyoka, 46, who is unemployed, said he would wait in the queue in spite of the rain rather than going back home, 40 minutes' walk away. He said the cupboards at his house were empty.

"I used to collect metal and go to sell it at the metal scrapyards. My cousin helped and applied for me for this grant. I received it in July and bought myself groceries every month since then. I live with my wife and we both receive this grant. I don't know what is going to happen as it comes to an end now. We're going back to the struggle life of sometimes sleeping with empty stomachs," Nyoka said.

Mpumezo Magingxa, 51, lost his part-time job when the lockdown started last year and did not qualify for unemployment benefits.

"I applied for this grant and now I don't know what next. President Ramaphosa should extend it since the economy has not fully opened up," Magingxa said.

The Black Sash and other civil society organisations have written to Ramaphosa, asking him to extend and increase the grant "to avert a humanitarian crisis".

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