Migrants centre drags SA govt to court over exclusion of asylum seekers from covid-19 relief grant
London, June 2, 2020 (AltAfrica)– The Scalabrini Centre-a migrant centre in South Africa has dragged the government to court over the exclusion of asylum-seekers and those in the country on special permit status from the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant, which is only available for a 6-month period from May.
Sally Gandar, head of advocacy and a legal adviser at the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, said: “The coronavirus knows no borders and does not stop to ask one’s nationality
“Citizens and foreign nationals in South Africa have been seriously affected by the national State of Disaster and lockdown.
Government taken to court over exclusion of asylum seekers from lockdown relief— Cape Argus (@TheCapeArgus) June 1, 2020
The Scalabrini Centre has taken the government to court over the exclusion of these groups from the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant.https://t.co/bwENaXQDN8
“The Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant was announced as an emergency measure to try to provide relief for persons not receiving any other form of assistance or income. We are demanding that the grant be opened to asylum-seekers and special-permit holders, as it is irrational and unreasonable to exclude such persons from being able to apply for it solely on the basis of their nationality or immigration status.”
The special Covid-19 grant aims to relieve the distress of those affected by the pandemic. It is open to South African citizens, refugee status holders, and permanent residents only. The grant is R350 a month, and will be provided from May to October. Under the current regulations, persons on asylum-seeking status or special-permits cannot apply for the Covid-19 grant.
In court papers addressed to the minister of Social Development, the minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Home Affairs, the SA Social Security Agency and the president, the centre argued that the decision was “unreasonable. It also stated that the measure failed to meet the reasonableness standards in terms of section 27.
“The pandemic has had a devastating socio-economic impact. The purpose of the grant is to alleviate the suffering of households affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many asylum seekers and special permit holders fall squarely within this category,” the court papers stated.
The government has until June 9 to file responding papers.