South Africa: 'Government Left Us Half Way' When Covid R350 Grant Ended

"When the teller at the South African Post Office informed me of the end of the R350 [Covid-19 relief of distress] grant last month, tears suddenly rolled ... The teller told me there were other beneficiaries who also got emotional," says 19-year-old Athenkosi Magwala from Kariega, Eastern Cape.

Magwala and his 33-year-old unemployed sister, who were orphaned years ago, live in an RDP house with their uncle in Peace Village in KwaNobuhle.

"We miss the R350 grant," he says. "Groceries we bought lured rats into our cupboards, but now the cupboards are empty and the rats are scarce."

He and his sister finished high school, but have never found employment. They depend on their uncle who earns R750 a week, working for a concrete company.

"We feel like we are burdening him," says Magwala.

Nearly one in two people under the age of 34 in South Africa were unemployed in the first quarter of 2021.

With the R700 he and his sister could pool, they used to buy mielie meal and fish oil, and bake bread or vetkoek. "The groceries lasted us at least a month," said Magwala.

His sister did not wish to be interviewed.

"What I miss most are potato chips, which cost R10. I also miss bananas and apples a lot. The last time I had them was earlier last month in May," says Magwala.

"We hope that the government will one day introduce a new R350 grant ... The government left us half way," he says.

Government terminated the Covid-19 grants on 30 April. Over six million South Africans were receiving the grant, the Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu said in February.

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