Social distance takes a pummelling in Eastern Cape grant queue scrums

12 August 2020 - 09:13 By Amanda Nano
Maintaining social distancing was difficult in the long queues at post offices in the Buffalo City metro when people lined up to receive their R350 Covid-19 relief grants.
Maintaining social distancing was difficult in the long queues at post offices in the Buffalo City metro when people lined up to receive their R350 Covid-19 relief grants.
Image: MICHAEL PINYANA

Queues for the R350 special Covid-19 relief grant become unmanageable at times as people forget social distancing in their scramble to advance in the lines.   

Post offices in the East London CBD, Cambridge, Mdantsane and Southernwood see large numbers of beneficiaries lining up every day to receive the grant.  

Some travel from as far as 30km away.

Zukisa Ngingxana, 35, told DispatchLIVE on Tuesday he travelled from NU3 in Mdantsane to get the grant at the Cambridge post office.

“The queue at Mdantsane post office isn’t great. People don’t respect the order of the queue. There’s more order here,” he said.

“I hope I’ll get my money today because the remaining R10 I have will be used to buy fat cakes. Otherwise I’ll have to borrow R20 from someone to go back to Mdantsane,” he said.

Noluthando Gaba, 51, who lives in Braelyn, arrived at the Cambridge post office at 5.20am.

“I borrowed R50 from a relative who does odd jobs. I have to eat from this money and it doesn’t help that I’m diabetic. There’s a queuing system grant recipients have developed, and I’m 100th in the queue. I know there’s a need for social distancing, but people push in so we end up being close together,” Gaba said.

Velile Dukiso, 36, understands Covid-19 can kill, but said he has no option but to stand in the queue.

“I’ve already borrowed R30 to get here and I survive on odd jobs,” Dukiso said.

There was little to no social distancing at the Cambridge and Southernwood post offices, and only a few people were wearing masks.

In July, the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) announced that beneficiaries could change from one payment method to another.

“They can change from receiving the grant at the post office to a bank account of their choice or vice versa.”  

This system's window period, commencing on August 3, closed on Sunday for approved beneficiaries.

Sassa chief executive Totsie Memela said the changes stemmed from beneficiaries who appealed to the agency to provide them with payment flexibility.

Challenges reported with post offices include long queues and funds running out.

Schuter Smanga, 58, who queued at the East London CBD post office on Tuesday, said he did not collect his grant in June and July because of long queues.

“My wife does clothing alterations and sells biscuits and sweets for our survival. God has helped us.

“There are more tellers in town so the queue is quicker because a lot of people go in at the same time,” Smanga said.

In the long queue snaking from Oxford Street up North Street and into Cambridge Street, there was little social distancing among the grant recipients.

DispatchLIVE



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