The R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant was introduced by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in 2020 in order to provide relief during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The human rights organisation, Black Sash advocates for the rights of Sassa beneficiaries and in January 2022 the organisation gathered research on the issues faced by recipients of the R350 SRD grant.
In the report by Black Sash they state that they interviewed 19 participants between the ages of 22 and 56, via telephone calls.
While participants expressed gratitude for the grant which helped them to provide for their families, they also highlighted challenges such as long queues, waiting for hours at the post office for their payments and being turned away from certain branches who told them they had no money available for them to receive grants.
Some participants also reported that unidentifed Sassa officials would accept R50 bribes from individuals who would want to skip the long queue.
Participants also experienced difficulties with connectivity when applying for the SRD grant which can only be applied for via online platforms.
The report revealed that participants were unable to rely solely on the R350 to buy food for the month and many were forced to skip meals or borrow money from family or loan sharks. Half of the participants say they applied for food parcels from Sassa but only two individuals received this.
Researcher Candice Groeneweld says that the limitations to accessing grants may have broader implications for transactional relationships, especially among young vulnerable women. She says that young women are desperate to survive and limitations to access social support could potentially lead to these women making difficult decisions for their survival.
Black Sash executive director, Rachel Bukasa told the media that the organisation is engaging the Presidency on the SRD grant and other forms of basic income protection.