Depend­ing on grants, for bit­ter or for worse

CityPress - - Voices - Paddy Harper voices@city­press.co.za

Thurs­day evening. It’s been a long week – two days of mov­ing house in Durban’s mad­den­ing heat can do that. My mus­cles are aching from cart­ing fur­ni­ture, my legs and arms are tat­tooed with scratches and bruises, and all I want to do is throw my bat­tered body into the ocean.

With a mas­sive pile of yet-to-be­raked muck in front of me and a nasty east­erly blow­ing, the beach is out as a means to beat­ing the heat. Like­wise a cold one. I’ve never been a one-beer kinda cat. I start drink­ing now and the re­sults will be cat­a­strophic.

I de­cide to head down the hill and meet up with my bras, Arab and Muks, for a cup of tea. Black tea is an old year-round Durban sta­ple, guar­an­teed to ward off the cold and ban­ish the heat. Arab and Muks are both Mus­lim, so it’s their tip­ple of choice.

My man Charles Bron­son – he got the un­wel­come moniker as a re­sult of his ma­cho ten­den­cies and hav­ing a face like an old army boot – is there when I land. Bron­son’s more of a beer man, but he abides by Arab’s no-booze house rule.

Muks is a for­mer truck driver, but can’t drive be­cause of a mus­cu­lar af­flic­tion that’s crip­pled his hands and feet for the past 10 years or so. Muks has been in and out of state hos­pi­tals, from neu­rol­o­gist to neu­rol­o­gist, with no re­sult – his con­di­tion is per­ma­nent and is never go­ing to get bet­ter.

Two years back, Muks swal­lowed his pride and ap­plied for a dis­abil­ity grant. He spent another few months mov­ing be­tween the SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (Sassa) of­fices, the King Din­uzulu Hos­pi­tal and the de­part­ment of home af­fairs, and even­tu­ally com­pleted all the tests and was given a dis­abil­ity grant for a 12-month pe­riod.

Muks is stoked. He’s just come back from the Sassa of­fice af­ter do­ing an an­nual as­sess­ment. He’s “passed” with fly­ing colours and has been de­clared per­ma­nently dis­abled. Muks’ wife and one daugh­ter are un­em­ployed and the fam­ily de­pends on his other daugh­ter’s salary, so the R1 410 monthly dis­abil­ity pay­ment makes a big dif­fer­ence to their lives.

Muks’ bub­ble is in se­ri­ous dan­ger of be­ing burst at the end of March when Sassa won’t be able to make his payout and the grants of 17 mil­lion other South Africans be­cause of the com­plete f*ck-up So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini and her bras at Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices have made of the en­tire sys­tem, but he doesn’t know it yet.

The sweet tea in my mouth sud­denly tastes bit­ter.

The dis­abil­ity pay­ment makes a big dif­fer­ence to their lives

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