Parliament, Friday, 8 May 2020 – A joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development and of the Select Committee on Health and Social Services has emphasised the need for the Department of Social Development to improve communication and education of the public regarding the application processes for the R350 social relief of distress grant, which is being dispensed to mitigate challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This public education will also assist all grant recipients, particularly the elderly, to be clear about the dates of grant payments. The committees expressed serious concerns over the long queues at the pay points, as well the lack of facilities, such as access to water, ablution facilities and chairs at the pay points, as this undermines the dignity of the beneficiaries, especially the elderly.

The committees were deeply saddened by the news of a 91-year-old elderly person who passed away while queuing for a social grant. The committees wish to send their condolences to the family. The committees also stressed that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) should make sure that technical glitches that occurred in April and May do not happen again, as they seriously inconvenienced beneficiaries. 

The committees have also encouraged Sassa to hire marshals, who will be responsible for queue management and ensure that there is social distancing when grant recipients are queuing for grants. The committees have noted that Sassa plans to use community development workers from the National Development Agency (NDA) to assist with queue management and hopes that this intervention will assist in this regard.
Furthermore, the committees have also requested the department to work with non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations who wish to offer relief to needy communities through food parcels distribution. The committees have also stressed the need for the department to ensure that politicians are not involved in the food parcels distribution process.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSONS OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, MR MONDLI GUNGUBELE, AND THE ACTING CHAIR OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES, ME ELLECK NCHABELENG.