Covid-19

'The extra money will help': Anxious breadwinners await Covid-19 grant

03 May 2020 - 00:00 By Alex Patrick
Angela Bukubuk says she will have to stretch what is left of her money until her grant is paid out tomorrow, four days later than she expected.
Angela Bukubuk says she will have to stretch what is left of her money until her grant is paid out tomorrow, four days later than she expected.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

At the beginning of the week, Angela Bukubuk, 61, heard from friends that her pension would be paid only tomorrow.

This meant scraping together food for an extra four days because she would normally receive her money on the last day of the month

Inside her two-bedroom RDP house, the empty fridge echoes her distress: two ice trays, a green pepper, and a small tub of yogurt. Above the fridge are four defrosting chicken pieces. Those, she said with a beaming face, would be dinner for the family of five.

The cupboards were equally sparse, with three big plastic tubs that she opened one at a time to reveal the family’s next meals: a cup of rice, two cups of mealie meal and a cup of sugar.

“I’m not too concerned about this weekend, but the food will be gone on Sunday, so I am worried about what we will have [to eat] on Monday.”

She still pins her hopes on the promise “by the city” five weeks ago that food donations will be distributed.

“I’m not sure about the R250 increase the minister promised me as a pensioner.

Beauty Tyiki decided to earn extra money by making ginger beer and selling it. But she has struggled to sell a single bottle of the non-alcoholic beverage.
Beauty Tyiki decided to earn extra money by making ginger beer and selling it. But she has struggled to sell a single bottle of the non-alcoholic beverage.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

“I will wait till I see it. It will help, but I don’t think it will make a huge difference. I look after three [small grandchildren] and I receive grants for two of them. The third child’s mother collects his grant, even though she lives without him in Cape Town.”

On collection day she usually forms a group with friends and they leave home at 5am for the 2km walk to the Bara Mall in Diepkloof, Soweto.

“There is usually a queue for Sassa grants and we are not all allowed to all go in [at the same time] to the Shoprite Checkers to receive our money.”

Thembeka Nxekexe, 26, shares a home in the Elias Motsoaledi township in Soweto with six family members, all of them unemployed.

The family survives on two child-care grants totalling R880. She said she would apply for the R350 Covid-19 distress grant for the unemployed.

The extra money could buy an extra 10kg of mealie meal, 5kg of rice, 2l of maas, 1kg of chicken pieces, 500g of sugar beans, 2.5kg of white sugar, and eggs.

Mavis Mbala supplements her meagre social services grant by selling cold drinks from her home in Power Park, Soweto
Mavis Mbala supplements her meagre social services grant by selling cold drinks from her home in Power Park, Soweto
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

“The extra money will help, but then at the end of Covid they take it away again,” she said.

A neighbour, Mavis Mbala, 58, has to make ends meet with two foster-care grants of R1,080 each, and one child grant for three children in her care.

“I’m out of mealie meal but I have no choice but to push on and wait for the money to come through.”

Until then she hopes her side hustle — selling cold drinks — will sustain the family on rice and eggs.

Beauty Tyiki, 32, who lives in Power Park, Soweto, found out about the new Sassa grant from the television news.

Three child-support grants sustain seven people in her home. Faced with the grants being paid later than expected, Tyiki’s entrepreneurial spirit led into her new business — making ginger beer. But on Thursday, when the Sunday Times visited, she had yet to sell a single bottle.


Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.