5 May 2020 by NONKULULEKO NJILO
Labour centres across the country have experienced large numbers of visitors as desperate citizens try to collect the R350 a month social grant earmarked for unemployed people.
The employment and labour department expressed concern about the crowds gathering in defiance of the regulations regarding social distancing.
The grant forms part of the R500bn in economic and social relief measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa to support the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The department said: “Social grants are a purview of the department of social development and not the department of employment and labour. The latter is only responsible for, among other things, the payment of unemployment insurance and for occupational injuries and diseases.”
The department said large groups of people descended on labour centres in several areas including Alberton in Gauteng, Port Elizabeth, East London, Grahamstown, Graaff Reinet, Queenstown and Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal and in Cape Town in the Western Cape.
Labour minister Thulas Nxesi said labour centres are closed for walk-ins for the duration of the lockdown.
“This decision is part of government’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus by minimising physical contact. This is in the best interests of the public and employees of the department.
“While our labour officers continue to process claims to ensure claimants receive their Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) disbursements on schedule, the centres are not open to the public”, said Nxesi.
His department urged unemployment insurance beneficiaries to submit their applications online and/or drop applications at the drop-in facilities outside labour centres countrywide. Beneficiaries can also submit claims online via www.ufiling.co.za or contact the UIF by calling 0800-030-007.
Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu earlier said unemployed South Africans can apply for the R350 grant by sending a WhatsApp message to 0600-123-456 and selecting Sassa, or by sending an e-mail to SRD@sassa.gov.za.
“We are still finalising additional access channels and including SMS, self-help desks and online applications. We will give information about these soon,” said Zulu.
Source: Sunday Times at https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2020-05-05-state-concerned-as-jobless-people-flood-centres-to-collect-r350-grant/