Social development minister, Lindiwe Zulu has been given five days to amend regulations governing the issuing out of the R350 grants.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ordered government to issue out unemployment grants to refugees as well.
Since the COVID-19 relief grants were introduced earlier in the year, asylum seekers have been excluded from receiving the funds, with only South Africans favoured.
Social development minister given less than a week to amend DSD grant regulations
On Friday, the court declared the directive issued by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu unconstitutional and unlawful.
The minister was given five days to see to it that regulations governing the issuing out of the Distress Social Grant (DSD) be amended to include asylum seekers.
Since the criteria for who qualifies to receive the funds was gazetted in May, it stated as follows:
- South African Citizens, Permanent Residents or Refugees registered with Home Affairs;
- Resident within the borders of the Republic of South Africa;
- Above the age of 18;
- Not receiving any income;
- Not receiving any social grant;
- Not receiving any unemployment insurance benefit and does not qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits;
- Not receiving a stipend from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme;
- Not receiving any other government COVID-19 response support; and
- Not resident in a government-funded or subsidised institution.
Glitches in issuing out R350 grants
Towards the end of May, reports of struggles to pay out the grants to qualifying applicants surfaced.
With almost five million people eligible to receive the funds, it emerged that South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) had only managed to issue out only ten payments.
A Sassa official, however, assured that the difficult part in issuing out the payments had been dealt with.
“We’ve sent SMS messages to over 100 000 people who are ready to receive the funds, and over time this process will become quicker. As soon as their data is loaded, we will be paying them on Friday. But, as of this moment, we had only paid 10 (ten) people this week as a test.”
Sassa CEO Busisiwe Memela-Khambula
Recent reports, however, suggest that over half of the applications received by the agency have been rejected.
Sassa says the delays came as a result of ensuring that no one receives an undue double payment.
“Sassa verifies all applicants by matching their data with other public and private databases to eliminate possibilities of double-dipping so that only deserving applicants received this financial aid,” said the agency.”
South African Social Security Agency (Sassa)
To date, the agency has paid just over a million qualifying applicants.