Emergency contacts for covid-19 lock-down: posters in your language

Please download, share and use these posters – so you know who to call in an emergency.

On every poster (aside from English), it states: “if you need help accessing one of these services, please contact info@scalabrini.org.za, tell us your language, and which service you need. We will connect you with someone who speaks your language.”

Scalabrini_centre_cape_town_lockdown_information

Information on the Lock-Down: posters in your language

What does the lock-down mean for you? This information is copied directly from the South African government. Please share with friends and family online. Take care, don't panic, and look out for each other.

For reliable information on the Covid-19 virus, visit www.sacoronavirus.co.za. We will be updating our Facebook Page with important information relating to Scalabrini's work and affected communities.

Unemployment Insurance Fund: Explainer

Please note! The information below applies to applications for normal UIF benefits only, and does not apply to the COVID-19 Temporary Employee / Employer Scheme. To make an application for normal UIF benefits during the lockdown, you can apply for UIF benefits by registering and filing online through the UIF online filing system.

What is the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)?

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (‘UIF’) is established by the Unemployment Insurance Act, and provides short-term relief to workers when they become unemployed or are unable to work because of maternity, paternity, or adoption leave, or illness. It also makes provision for the dependents of a deceased worker, or for the loss of income due to reduced working time in certain cases.

Eligible workers in South Africa are required to register with and contribute to UIF on a monthly basis. Contributors to UIF who become unemployed or are unable to work can apply for: unemployment benefits; maternity benefits; paternity benefits; illness benefits; adoption benefits; and, dependant benefits (in the case of death of the contributor).

This explainer provides general information on UIF and accessing its benefits. For further information you can visit the website of the Western Cape Government or the Department of Labour, contact the Client Service Centre of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (toll free, 0800 843 843), or speak to an official of the Department of Labour at your nearest Labour Centre.

Who contributes to UIF, and how much is contributed?

The Unemployment Insurance Act and Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act apply to all employers and workers (including domestic workers), all of whom should contribute to UIF. However, the following workers do not have to make contributions to UIF: workers working less than 24 hours a month for an employer; learners; public servants; foreign nationals working on temporary contract; workers who get a monthly State (old age) pension; or, workers who only earn commission.

The following people must contribute to UIF when formally employed (unless excluded as above):

All persons lawfully employed in South Africa, such as:

  1. South African Citizens with a 13-Digit ID,
  2. Refugees with a Refugee Certificate or Refugee ID issued in terms of the Refugees Act,
  3. Asylum seekers with an Asylum Seeker Permit or Visa issued in terms of the Refugees Act; or
  4. Foreign nationals with valid passport/permit or 13-Digit ID (in the case of permanent residents).

As a worker, 2% of your monthly salary must be contributed to UIF. Your employer must contribute 1% and you must contribute 1%. This should be deducted from your monthly salary, and should be reflected on your pay slip. Every employee has the right to a pay slip and a written contract.

If you are not sure if you or your employer are supposed to pay contributions to UIF, speak to an official of the Department of Labour at the nearest Labour Centre.

Who can apply for benefits from UIF, and under which circumstances?

Any worker who has made contributions to UIF may apply for benefits when they become unemployed or are unable to work because of maternity, adoption leave, or illness. In the case of a deceased worker, the dependents can apply for benefits. The application would then have to be processed by the Department of Labour. In order to be eligible for benefits, you must meet certain criteria or circumstances. These include the following, displayed on this table:

How do I apply for benefits from UIF, and when should I apply?

(Note: To make an application for normal UIF benefits during the lockdown, you can apply for UIF benefits by registering and filing online through the UIF online filing system.)

Normally, applications should be made at your nearest Labour Centre. Go as soon as possible. Timeframes within which applications must be made depend on the type of benefits one is applying for. The Unemployment Insurance Commissioner may accept a late application if good cause is shown. These time-frames include:

To make a claim you will need the following documents:

  1. A valid form of identification, such as: a 13-Digit ID (Citizens or Permanent Residents); a valid passport/permit; a Refugee Certificate or Refugee ID issued in terms of the Refugees Act or an Asylum Seeker Permit or Visa issued in terms of the Refugees Act;
  2. Form UI-2.8 for banking details;
  3. Copies of your last six payslips;
  4. The relevant UI application form for the type of claim (inquire at Labour Centre for relevant form); and
  5. Relevant supporting documentation, i.e. proof of illness, adoption order, birth certificate, death certificate, etc.

Once you have the necessary documentation, you must go to your nearest Labour Centre themselves and hand in the documents. Staff at the Labour Centre should assist you with all the processes and give you more information. Staff at the Labour Centre may ask for further documentation.

If you think you are eligible for benefits from UIF, or if you have any questions regarding the application process, speak to an official of the Department of Labour at your nearest Labour Centre.

What benefits will I receive if I apply for benefits from UIF?

If you are eligible for benefits from UIF, the level of benefits you will receive is dependent on your income and how long you have been a contributor to UIF. This calculation is made by the Department of Labour.

If you have questions regarding the level of benefits you will receive, speak to an official of the Department of Labour at your nearest Labour Centre for assistance. Click here for a list of Labour Centres.

Are refugees and asylum seekers able to contribute to and apply for benefits from UIF?

Yes. Amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act Regulations came into operation on 14 February 2020, and allow asylum seekers who made contributions to UIF to access benefits from UIF. These Amendments are the result of strategic litigation undertaken by Werksmans Attorneys.

I am having difficulty accessing benefits from UIF. What can I do?

If you are having difficulty accessing benefits from UIF, your first step should be to speak to an official of the Department of Labour at the nearest Labour Centre for assistance or to contact the Client Service Centre of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (toll free, 0800 843 843). Click here for a list of Labour Centres.

If you continue to have difficulty accessing benefits from UIF, keep a detailed record of interactions with the Labour Centre, including when you attended, which documents you submitted or received and copies thereof, and what information was provided for you, including reasons why you have not been assisted. You can use this information to seek advice. You can use this information to contact and seek advice from one of the organisations listed below. Organisations you can contact for help include:

Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) Tel: 011 356 5860

ProBono.org Tel: 011 339 6080 (Johannesburg); 031 301 6178 (Durban); 087 806 6070 (Cape Town

The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town (Cape Town) Tel: 021 465 6433

Lawyers for Human Rights (Nationwide) Tel: 015 534 2203 (Musina); 031 301 0531 (Durban); 012 320 2943 (Pretoria); 011 339 1960 (Johannesburg)

Refugee Rights (Cape Town) Tel:  021 650 3775

Refugee Rights Centre (Port Elizabeth) Tel: 041 504 1310.

This is part of our Teach-Yourself Series. Find more articles & infographics here.

Researched by Ben-Joop Venter and JeanLouise Olivier, with contributions by the Advocacy Team and volunteers.

#FarFromHome: Heather

Welcome to our global #FarFromHome series: reflections on covid-19 lockdown from people who are are far from their family and home-country. We hope this brings comfort and reassurance. We chat to Heather, from South Africa, who lives in the UK.

What keeps you motivated during lock-down That this time is a gift – it is a time to pause and do the things you have not had time to do. It can be a time to reflect and heal.

Has anything brought you hope or inspiration at this time? I have been inspired by way that the planet is healing when there are no humans around, and the community spirit that this crisis has brought to the surface.

What other emotions has this period brought for you?  The lockdown has brought me fear – of staring death in the face. And the realisation that I have not prepared for death. I also fear the inability to help if family get sick. I don’t know if I would be able to get there or say goodbye.

What in your life history has made you better able to deal with this situation? I know that I am strong. I know that I am brave and that I can survive.

What good qualities has lockdown brought out in you? During lockdown, I have learnt about my ability to be a good friend.

What characteristics of yourself have you relied on to get through lockdown? The ability to be alone and happy and my ability to adapt to new situations.

Has this experience changed your interaction with your neighbours or community? Yes, I’ve really been impressed with the way the community have rallied. For example, neighbours are giving each other free masks.

What would be your advice to those people facing loneliness at this time? If you are lonely right now, do something that will give you another perspective, something to lift you out of yourself.

Is there any other message you would like to send to other people who are living far from their original birthplace during this time? Social media and online chat spaces have brought us much closer than we may have been before Coronavirus in many instances. Tap into this phenomenon and make the most of this new age.

#FarFromHome: Gurmu

Welcome to our global #FarFromHome series: reflections on covid-19 lockdown from people who are are far from their family and home-country. We hope this brings comfort and reassurance. We chat to Gurmu, from Ethiopia, who lives in Scotland.

What thoughts have guided you through the covid-19 lockdown? It’s quite a scary situation for all humans, whoever we are and wherever we are in the world. I think all humans are together in one ‘self-isolation path’.

Has anything brought you hope or inspiration at this time?  I think everyone is now aware, subconsciously, of our humanity.

What other emotions has this period brought for you? I feel worthless in that we can’t help or support each other. I thank technology that enables us to stay connected remotely each other.

Are you connected to people in your home country? I now spend my time connected to the internet. I equip myself with up to date information, then I share this information with people that need it, like my families and friends back home in Ethiopia.  

What good qualities has lock-down brought out in you? It has enabled me to work and study remotely, updating myself with the current situations where the world at, and stay connected to people.

What characteristics of yourself have you relied on to get through this time? I can say that I am a disciplined and well organised person, I respect the rules and restrictions, and I think this definitely helps everyone.

Has this experience changed your interaction with your neighbours or community? Yes, there used to be a personal or physical interaction in the community, but that had to stop. However, we are still bonding … remotely.

What would be your advice to those people facing loneliness at this time? If you are lonely right now: keep a strong, bright hope in your heart, and tomorrow will be yours. There are many of us in the same situation. Try to break the barriers: stay connected with others, and don’t give up. 

What is your message to people who are living Far From Home during this time? I have this message for the people who are far from their homeland like me: This is unprecedented time in our life, and for our planet. It is time to think about humanity. Keep your solidarity strong, and look after each other please.

Made possible with the participation from the Mental Health Foundation, who has specific resources on mental health during the covid-19 lockdown.

#FarFromHome: Khader

Welcome to our global #FarFromHome series: reflections on covid-19 lockdown from people who are are far from their family and home-country. We hope this brings comfort and reassurance. We chat to Khader, from Palestine, who lives in Greece.

What has kept you going at this time? The hope that science will soon find a therapy end the vaccine for the new virus. Also, I now have more time to pursue academic interests.

Has anything brought you hope or inspiration at this time? The latest positive scientific news has brought me hope.

What other emotions has this period brought for you? This period has brought insecurity, loneliness and fear.

What in your life history has made you better able to deal with this situation? The difficult times I experienced since my early years in my home country, Palestine, has made me better prepared for this situation.

What good qualities has lockdown brought out in you? I have realised that I can create a safer and healthier environment for those around me.

What characteristics of yourself have you relied on to get through this tough time? My positive attitude.

Has this experience changed your interaction with your neighbours or community? Yes, I am now more interested in the needs of the people around me.

What would be your advice to those people facing loneliness at this time? If you are lonely at this time, communicate more often with relatives and friends via the internet and the telephone. And, when needed, seek advice from the experts.

Is there any other message you would like to send to other people who are living far from their original birthplace during this time? Stay healthy and eventually everything will be how it was before.

With thanks to Solidarity Now – an NGO in Greece that is is committed to improve vulnerable people’s lives in order to pursue a better future, with dignity and perspectives. Read more here, or follow them on Facebook.

#FarFromHome: Adam

Welcome to our global #FarFromHome series: reflections on covid-19 lockdown from people who are are far from their family and home-country. We hope this brings comfort and reassurance. We chat to Adam, from Syria, who lives in Scotland.

What brings you inspiration at this time? In my opinion, I hope that God should always accompany us, so I always hope that everyone will be in excellent health and great psychological well-being.

What characteristics of yourself have you relied on to get through this tough time?
I have discipline built in myself, and discipline is best needed to achieve patience, steadfastness and replace negative energies with positive ones.

What keeps you motivated during lockdown? I keep busy with reading books and practicing sports as well as participating in groups to talk about topics aimed at spreading tips in society to benefit everyone.

What other emotions has this period brought for you? It is normal for some people to feel a sort of fear, myself included, and my fear led me to be more protective so that I can protect myself and people around me. But we cannot escape reality: life continues and the problem should be recognized first and not escaping from it.

What in your life history has made you better able to deal with this situation? In times of crisis, I feel the challenge which makes me more powerful. Despite challenge, boredom and laziness in this period, by taking advantage of my time in doing useful and entertaining things, I will be able to cope.

Has this experience changed your interaction with your neighbours or community? This tough experience brought me closer to people by communicating with them through social media as the work pressures in non-crisis times did not grant me enough time to communicate.

What is your message to people who are living Far From Home during this time? My advice or message is the following: If we think a little and ask ourselves what the positive results of unity are, we will realize that our best bet is to get rid of the negativity in us by replacing it with other positive things. We must have hope and optimism at this time and stay strong to maintain our health. Life only continues with hope and love between us.

Made possible with the participation from the Mental Health Foundation, who has specific resources on mental health during the covid-19 lockdown.

Covid-19 prevention: posters in your language

Help stop the spread of Covid-19 by using these posters in different languages. Please download and share and post online. Together, we can help stop the spread of Covid-19. For reliable information on the Covid-19 virus, visit www.sacoronavirus.co.za. We will be updating our Facebook Page with important information relating to Scalabrini's work and affected communities.

success story advocacy 17 03 2020

Pierre – War, seperation and reconnections: documenting young lives with Advocacy

Pierre, Jean and Eve,* from North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), once lived somewhat peacefully with their parents. Between 2012 and 2019, this family would be subject to unimaginable loss, conflict and separation. Their story brings us to Cape Town, South Africa, and the involvement of Scalabrini’s Advocacy team. 

Loss in Eastern DRC 

Jean, Eve and Pierre were orphaned by the time they were teenagers. Pierre, the oldest of the three, was separated from Jean and Eve. Jean and Eve sought refuge in the forests near Rwanda with their uncle and his wife. 

Rebel activity was rife. People living in the forests were regularly abducted. Their uncle was abducted by the rebels. Once again, Jean and Eve fled. Over the course of several months, they joined various groups of people fleeing across southern Africa. They did not know where they were going but ended up in South Africa. 

“This case was an example of what separated children go through: the trauma of loss. The trauma of parents dying, of being separated from each other and the loss that comes with forced migration,” says Sindisiwe Moyo of the Advocacy team. 

A miracle in Durban 

The Congolese community took Jean and Eve under their wing and – whilst attempting to apply for asylum in Durban, an interpreter noticed their surname and contacted a friend – with the same surname – living in Cape Town. Miraculously, it turned out to be Pierre. In haste, bus tickets were bought and the siblings were reunited on the concrete pavements of Cape Town bus station. 

Paperwork and protection 

In South Africa, dependents of refugees can be documented in the same asylum file. Pierre, finding it difficult to navigate the complex processes regarding refugee children and the Department of Social Development, approached Scalabrini for support. ‘This case was an example of what separated children go through: the trauma of loss. The trauma of parents dying, of being separated from each other and the loss that comes with forced migration,’ says Sindisiwe Moyo of the Advocacy team. 

The Advocacy team – then equipped with a social worker of its own – assisted the family to approach the Children’s Court. In a long, tricky process, the Children’s Court issued an order that the children be documented within Pierre’s asylum file. Pierre had already been granted refugee status in South Africa. 

The documentation process could only take place in DurbanThrough tireless meetings with the Refugee Reception Office in Cape Town, an appointment was set down at Durban Refugee Reception Office. Lumka, of the Advocacy team, travelled with the three siblings to Durban Refugee Reception Office by bus, where they were successfully documented as dependents of Pierre and the children were issued refugee status permits.  

‘It was a real struggle to get these children documented. It took more than a year’, explained Sindisiwe. ‘But it was a real team effort. We effectively ended up taking the case into our own hands and realised that the social workers and the judicial system is not yet sufficiently aware of how to deal with refugee children in South Africa.’ 

Armed with their new refugee permits, Jean, Eve and Pierre returned to Cape Town from Durban. And – as they now held documents – they were able to return by aeroplane, for the first time in their lives. 

*Names and some place-names have been changed to protect identities.  

Giulia Bosi : Advocacy volunteer

Giulia speaks of her time at Scalabrini and how being here has broadened the way in which she views the world. Her interests lie in human rights and the International Law field, which lead her to a volunteer position at Scalabrini. Read more about her experience as an Advocacy volunteer.  

One year ago, in this very moment, I was in the heart of Cape Town at Scalabrini Centre office talking to J., an asylum seeker who just arrived from the DRC and telling him how to get an asylum seeker permit, or writing a letter to a hospital explaining that M., who is a pregnant undocumented woman has the right to access healthcare under South African law, or clarifying to A., a refugee, how to ask for family joining. 

Becoming an Advocacy Volunteer at Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town has been one of the best decisions I ever made. Studying human rights abuses is one thing, talking to people who face them every day is another. The experience at Scalabrini Centre was exactly what I was looking for. 

“I explored the true meanings of identity, diversity and integration, and I did so removing the Euro-centric pair of lenses with which I was taught to look at the world.”

As a member of the Advocacy team, my main task was to give paralegal advice to asylum seekers and refugees who attend the walk-in clinic in the morning. The advice regarded issues of documentation, the asylum system, appeal processes and access to healthcare and education. This was the part of the job that I preferred, as it gave me the opportunity to listen to asylum seekers and refugees’ stories, and also because at the end of the day, the walk-in clinic is much more than giving paralegal advice. It is about restoring people’s dignity. It is about making people feel they are not alone. Yet, I also found it very difficult – I often felt powerless towards some of the injustices that I heard. 

Other tasks that I carried out included researching specific Refugee Law topics, writing press reviews, and attending meetings at the South African Parliament. Moreover, I spent one afternoon per week at Lawrence House, a child care center for unaccompanied foreign minors, where I had the opportunity to organise workshops and activities for the children and teenagers living there. 

Thanks to Scalabrini Centre and the amazing staff, I grew both from a professional and personal point of view. Professionally, I definitely improved my theoretical and practical knowledge of International and South African Refugee Law. Personally, I explored the true meanings of identity, diversity and integration, and I did so removing the Euro-centric pair of lenses with which I was taught to look at the world. Everything that I learned in this regard is shaping and will continue to shape my future work and personal relationships. 

As a first-year PhD candidate in Human Rights and Global Politics in Italy at the moment, my future plans are to write a doctoral thesis which can really have a practical impact on society and to get some more field experience in order for my studies to always be connected with people’s real life. Actually, if I won a PhD scholarship it is also thanks to my time at Scalabrini Centre as I got extremely valuable career advice and life lessons by its staff. 

I conclude saying that I truly hope that the people who come to Scalabrini for help will keep fighting for their rights. This battle they take part in everyday is exhausting, I could see that in many people’s eyes. Some people are losing the energy as the system they fight against seems to be invincible. My hope is directed towards these people, I hope they will find the strength to carry on.”