Poor ask public protector for help over grant denial
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