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Ongoing support for people living with disabilities

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

The Department of Social Development (DSD) has put in place support programmes aimed at helping those live with disabilities through the era of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This includes access to psycho-social support from the department’s social workers and psychologists to look after a person’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

In addition, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has introduced a separate grant collection date for people living with disabilities to reduce overcrowding and thus lessen their chances of being infected with COVID-19.

The older persons grant will now be paid from August 3, the disability grant from  August 4 and all the other grants from August 5.

SASSA CEO Totsie Memela says the process will be monitored closely and if needed, another additional payment date will be introduced to ensure SASSA complies with government’s social distancing guidelines.

“Beneficiaries should remember that they don’t have to withdraw their money on the first payment date but can withdraw it on any day after the payment date as it will remain in the accounts until they withdraw it,” she says.

Meanwhile, the DSD has kept its care facilities open during the lockdown so that people living with disabilities are able to get the support they need. These centres are run through non-profit organisations (NPOs) and provide temporary or permanent care, protection, support, stimulation and rehabilitation.

Day-care centres, also run by NPOs, have been made available to provide supervised care and activities during the day for people living with disabilities. 

Forty-four day-care centres for children with severe and profound intellectual disability have the salaries of their employees subsidised by the various provincial departments.

DSD Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu says that people who live with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 threatens the safety and wellbeing of persons with disabilities as some of them depend on support from others to maintain their independence,” says the Minister. 

She explains that because of this, the department is working with provincial offices to put measures in place to ensure that people living with disabilities receive the care they need during the pandemic.

For more information, people living with disabilities should contact their nearest care facility or DSD office. Alternatively, contact the National DSD via SMS on 31531 or by calling 012 312 7727.