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Black Sash Fights Cancellation of Caregiver Grant in Court

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On Friday 30 October, the Black Sash Trust took the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to court to prevent them from cancelling the caregiver top-up grant. This top-up grant was available to caregivers during the lockdown period in South Africa. Black Sash revealed that they went as far as to seek clarity on extending the grant however they were dismissed and saw that SASSA intended to cancel the grant.

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The Black Sash Trust was represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies in the Pretoria High Court on Friday. Black Sash decided to go to court to prevent the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) from cancelling the COVID-19 R500 caregiver grant. This grant helped many people buy food and pay for other necessities during lockdown.

SASSA posted on Twitter last week that all top-up social grant payments (disability, old age, child support, war veterans, foster child and care dependency) would be canceled by the end of October and these top-ups would not be extended. Those beneficiaries would receive the amounts they did before COVID-19.

Black Sash argued that the caregiver grant has assisted so many of the most vulnerable South Africans through an uncertain and stressful time to access necessities.

And brought to the court’s attention that the grant was implemented to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic and since South Africans are still living with COVID-19, the grant should not be terminated.

SASSA decided to extend the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant, which is just as important and necessary as the caregiver grant. Therefore, Black Sash believes that the caregiver grant should continue.

Ariella Scher, the attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, said “As we understand it, this top-up is a new form of social security that cannot come to an end until the state of disaster is lifted or the devastating impacts of the pandemic have been reversed. This date is certainly not Saturday, 31 October 2020.”

According to Lynette Maart, the National Director of the Black Sash Trust, more than seven million beneficiaries’ lives will be impacted by the termination of the caregiver grant.

The court hearing took place virtually before the Pretoria High Court.

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