Poor ask pub­lic pro­tec­tor for help over grant de­nial

Cape Argus - - METRO -

HUN­DREDS of South Africans have turned to Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane af­ter be­ing de­nied the R350 a month spe­cial so­cial relief of dis­tress grant, aimed at cush­ion­ing the poor­est from the ef­fects of the Covid-19-in­duced eco­nomic melt­down.

Mkhwe­bane’s of­fice said it had seen “a rapid surge” in the num­ber of com­plaints of con­duct and ser­vice fail­ure re­lat­ing to the Covid-19 pan­demic over the past four months.

“Ser­vice fail­ure al­le­ga­tions ac­count for the lion’s share of the griev­ances, with as many as 450 peo­ple hav­ing ap­proached the of­fice to com­plain about what they deem un­rea­son­able grounds for de­clin­ing their applicatio­ns for the R350 a month spe­cial so­cial relief of dis­tress grant,” spokesper­son Oupa Se­galwe said.

He said Mkhwe­bane planned to meet So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Lindiwe Zulu to bring to her at­ten­tion to the spe­cial so­cial relief of dis­tress grant griev­ances in a bid to find a speedy res­o­lu­tion.

“The meet­ing will be the lat­est in a se­ries of Covid-19-re­lated en­gage­ments with, among oth­ers, the min­is­ters of Hu­man Set­tle­ments, Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion, Co-op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs and Ba­sic Education, as well as the au­di­tor-gen­eral and the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit,” he said.

The spe­cial grant was an­nounced in April to aid the un­em­ployed who were not re­ceiv­ing any other so­cial grant or un­em­ploy­ment in­surance fund (UIF) ben­e­fits.

Se­galwe said that in Mpumalanga, the pub­lic pro­tec­tor was in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­leged ten­der irregulari­ties in the award­ing of a quar­an­tine camp con­tract. It has been al­leged that the Zithabesen­i fa­cil­ity, which re­ceived the con­tract, was di­lap­i­dated and a health haz­ard.

“In KwaZulu-Na­tal, the of­fice is prob­ing al­le­ga­tions of irregulari­ties in the pro­cure­ment of per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) by the pro­vin­cial De­part­ment of Education,” he said.

He said it was al­leged that the de­part­ment had pro­cured the PPE at in­flated prices.

“In the East­ern Cape, the pub­lic pro­tec­tor is look­ing into al­le­ga­tions that a lodge, which is be­ing used as a quar­an­tine site for Covid-19, is owned by an MEC. There is also the case of al­leged irregulari­ties in re­spect of the R400 mil­lion e-learn­ing equip­ment (tablets) ten­der.”

Mkhwe­bane was also prob­ing al­le­ga­tions of mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion, im­proper con­duct and the mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of pub­lic funds by the East­ern Cape De­part­ment of Health in re­la­tion to the con­tro­ver­sial med­i­cal scoot­ers project. |

As many as 450 peo­ple have ap­proached the of­fice

Oupa Se­galwe SPOKESPER­SON FOR PUB­LIC PRO­TEC­TOR

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