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Asylum seekers, special permit holders now have access to COVID-19 grant

The R350 per month special grant is meant to help those who have no access to any other kind of social support and can't work because of the lockdown.

Sibongikosi Nyoni from Zimbabwe says she had to take her children back home because of the epidemic. Nyoni has been begging on the streets for food. Picture Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Some asylum-seekers and special permit holders living in the country will now be able to access the special COVID-19 relief grant.

The Scalabrini Centre took government to court and won their bid in the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday.

The R350 per month special grant is meant to help those who have no access to any other kind of social support and can't work because of the lockdown.

Sassa officials told Parliament last week that funds were dwindling and that the money allocated to pay these grants was likely to run out fast.

The Scalabrini Centre said that just like any other South African, asylum seekers and special permit holders were suffering because of the pandemic and the associated lockdown.

The centre's Sally Gandar said that while R350 may not seem like a lot, it made the world of difference for families just trying to put a plate of food on the table..

"In fact, it's going to be really significant as it provides a small amount of relief to a further group of people that so desperately need it."

So what does this court order actually mean for asylum seekers and those with special permit status?

Gandar said that those with documents that were valid at the start of the national state of disaster would be able to apply for the grant.

And, in order to access the money, they would need to provide their documents, visas and or permits.

"There's certain categories of people, often from Zimbabwe, Lesotho or Angola, that has allowed them to be able to apply but some criteria still apply."

She added that applicants affected by this court order would be able to apply once the Minister of Social Development had made the relevant amendments.

This should be done within about 10 days of the date of the court order.

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