The National Lockdown has affected millions of South Africans in the informal economy and those without employment are struggling to survive.[1] Court applications for maintenance are also affected by the Lockdown in that lower courts are only attending to urgent and essential matters. Only first-time applications for maintenance orders are being heard; enforcement of an existing maintenance orders are being heard in limited circumstances; and persons who cannot comply with an existing maintenance order, may approach a court for a variation or setting aside of a maintenance order.

As a result, on 21 April 2020 President Cyril Ramaphosa, announced a social relief and economic support package of R500 billion to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on households.[2]

The following social assistance has been introduced to assist South Africans desperately affected by COVID-19:

  • Child support grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R300 per month in May 2020 thereafter an additional R500 per month from June to October 2020 will be received.[3]
    • All other grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R250 per month for the next six months; and
    • A special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant of R350 a month for the next six months (the “SRD Grant”) has been introduced.

The SRD Grant

What is the SRD: It is a special grant allocated to people who are unemployed and who do not receive any other social grant from Government or payments from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, South African Revenue Service, and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and where refusal of the SRD grant will result in undue hardship It is receivable in the form of: a food parcel, voucher or cash amount of R350 per month for the next six months.

Who may apply for assistance: The SRD grant is paid to only South African citizens, permanent residents or refugees. Applicants who have insufficient means to survive and who meet the criteria below may apply.

Eligibility Requirements for SRD:

  • The Applicant must have been a recipient of a temporary disability grant that lapsed in March 2020 and could not be renewed due to the Lockdown; or
  • The Applicant must be able to provethat they cannot work for medical reasons for a period of six months ; or
  • The Applicant must have suffered the loss of a bread winner in the family and made an application is within twelve months of the date of death; or
  • The Applicant must not receive maintenance from a parent, child or spouse obliged in law to pay maintenance, and provide proof that efforts that were made to obtain maintenance have been unsuccessful; or
  • The Applicant faced a disaster in their community. A disaster is classified as a natural or human-caused event which causes (or threatens to cause) death, injury or disease, damage to property or disruption of community life or serious material damage or loss or distress has occurred or is likely to occur;[4] or
  • The Applicant forms part of a Child Headed Household.

How to apply for the SRD Grant: There is no application cost for the grant. The application form is not available online, but you can obtain a format your nearest South African Social Security Agency (“SASSA”) office. The Department of Social Development also intends to allow Applicants to register via Whats App. However, this process has not yet been officially rolled out.

An Applicant must submit:

  • a completed application form;
  • a copy of their identity document and children’s birth certificates, if applicable;[5]and
  • proof that the Applicant has applied for a grant; has had an emergency (for example, provide a police report that your house burnt down); has tried to obtain maintenance; has no other support; is married, divorced, or single; has no income; or has a short-term medical disability.

The application will be processed immediately and assessed for credibility and a genuine need for the service.[6]