Sassa Faces Legal Action Over R350 Grant Criteria

Civil rights organisations have jointly filed a court application against Sassa in the Pretoria High Court. Their application raises concerns over the eligibility requirements for The Social Relief of Distress grant, valued at R350. 

PayTheGrants, and The Institute for Economic Justice argue that the current regulations have resulted in a significant number of beneficiaries being unable to access the much-needed relief.

 According to PayTheGrants deputy chairperson, Elizabeth Raiters, many applicants have had their grant requests declined due to issues related to bank verification.

Raiters explained that beneficiaries who receive financial support from family members while awaiting the approval of their grant applications are being penalised. The current system reflects these additional funds in their bank accounts, leading to their ineligibility for the SRD grant.

“What we would like to see change is the bank verification issue. Beneficiaries are getting penalised because of bank accounts. This mostly happens beneficiaries who receive money from family members while they wait for their grant applications to be approved”

Current SRD Grant Requirements Deemed Exclusionary 

Neil Coleman, a Senior Policy Specialist with The Institute for Economic Justice, further emphasised that the new restrictions introduced by the Department of Social Development have substantially reduced the number of people currently able to access the SRD grant. 

Government and independent research estimates indicate that around 16 million people should qualify for the grant, but exclusionary measures, allegedly introduced at the behest of the National Treasury, have limited its reach.

Coleman stated that their lawyers have advised them to seek the removal of various sections of the grant regulations. The applicants contend that the government’s definition of “income” is too broad, as it currently includes financial support received from family and friends. They propose that “income” should only be considered money received from employment, business activities, or investments.

Calls For An Increase of The SRD Grant 

Furthermore, the applicants are requesting the court to rule in favor of increasing the grant and income threshold for eligibility to account for inflation and the rising cost of living. As it stands, the SRD grant is administered entirely online, but the current verification process has proven to be a significant obstacle for many applicants.

The SRD grant is intended to provide financial assistance to those in dire need, with eligibility set for individuals with a monthly income of less than R624.

However, the issues raised by PayTheGrants and The Institute for Economic Justice underscore the need for a thorough review of the current regulations to ensure that deserving individuals are not unfairly excluded from accessing this vital social relief.

The Pretoria High Court will deliberate on the application, and its ruling could have significant implications for the future of the SRD grant and its accessibility to those who require immediate assistance.