R350 may not seem like much, but is important to those in need, Newsline

R350 may not seem like much to many people, but the value of the Social relief of distress grant is obvious if one sees the queues waiting outside Pretoria’s central post office to claim it.

A long queue formed yesterday again at the post office on Church Square of people waiting to collect the grant intended for persons in dire material need during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government announced the special SRD grant of R350 a month for six months at the start of the lockdown and it is intended for those who are unemployed, and do not receive any other form of social grant or Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payment.

By August, 4.4million people had received support. This was in addition to an announcement that other SASSA grant beneficiaries would receive an additional R250 per month, and the UIF Covid-19 TERS payments which resumed this month.

SASSA received over five million applications for the grant in the first three months, including many chancers who did in fact have other sources of income.

Acting director-general for the Department of Social Linton Mchunu said a verification process had saved the government R13.6 million at least, which would have been paid out incorrectly.

The process led to delays and frustration for those waiting to claim, but some have now been able to collect double payments of R700 at least.

With the lockdown now in month six, needs and responsibilities have mounted and people are up early to get in line at this and other post offices holding onto their ID to claim the payments.

Among those in the queue at the city post office were unemployed youths and older adults who dealt with the heat to get what paid out.

Although SASSA announced a change in the payment method so that approved beneficiaries could receive their money directly in their bank accounts, many still prefer to go in person.

Mike Ledwaba said: “I prefer to come collect my grant here because the Post Offices in the Soshanguve township can have very long queues and it is sometimes too hot to spend the whole day in a line.

“Here the line is long but it actually moves and that way most people get help. However, a moving queue does not mean people are receiving money,:” he said. Sometimes it is just to check one is registered.

He said he had received R700 from the fund since the start of lockdown, and the money had gone on his children.

Enos Mathe and Lilian Moyo said they travelled from Klipgat to Church Square because they were told things were quicker at the Post Office in town.

Moyo said: “This money may not seem like much to people who are working but it is a lot of money to some of us. With December just around the corner, and children expecting new clothes and sneakers, this money will make a huge difference.”