/ 2 February 2009

Skweyiya: Social relief only for the poorest of poor

Government’s social relief of distress (SRD) assistance is only available to the ”poorest of the poor”, Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya said on Monday.

Skweyiya appealed to civil society not to create a false impression that social relief of distress assistance is accessible to all South Africans, regardless of their economic standing, his department said in a statement.

”We appeal further to our traditional and local leaders, NGOs, faith-based organisations who are assisting us in identifying and reaching poor households to dispense accurate information about who qualifies for the SRD,” Skweyiya said.

SRD, according to the department, is a ”temporary provision of assistance intended for people facing hardships and unable to meet their or their families’ most basic needs”.

Skweyiya’s spokesperson Zanele Mngadi said there were people, in the Western Cape in particular, coming to the department’s offices ”in large numbers” to access this fund.

”People are coming to our offices in large numbers … many are being advised by NGOs and even political parties but many of them don’t qualify. The SRD is for those who are really, really poor, the poorest of the poor,” she said.

When people apply for the SRD, the department sends out social workers to ensure that they qualify. The criteria is broad, including households with no income after the breadwinner loses his or her job or child-headed households.

People who are medically unfit to undertake remunerative work for a period of less than six months also qualify; as well as those who were affected by a disaster and the specific area has not yet been declared a disaster area, the department’s website said.

A successful applicant could receive between R230 and R960 a month for a period of three months, Mngadi said. The relief may also come in the form of food parcels, vouchers and school uniforms. — Sapa