Social distance takes a pummelling in Eastern Cape grant queue scrum

Long queues can been seen in post offices in the Buffalo City Metro as many try to be the first few to get their R350 grant. In most instances, maintaining social distancing is difficult.
Picture: 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 huge numbers of beneficiaries lining up each day to receive the grant.

Some come from as far as 30km away.

Zukisa Ngingxana, 35, told DispatchLIVE on Tuesday  he came 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 so I can eat. 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 we [grant recipients] developed and I’m 100th in the queue. Yes, I understand there’s social distancing but people push in so we end up being close together,” Gaba said.

Velile Dukiso, 36, understands that Covid-19 can kill but he has little 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, while few people wore masks.

In a statement in July, 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 window period, commencing on August 3, closed on Sunday for approved beneficiaries.

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

Some challenges reported with the post office include long queues and funds running out.

Schuter Smanga, 58, who chose to queue 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, which we have survived on. God has helped us.

“There are more tellers here 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 left into Cambridge Street, there was very little social distancing.

By Amanda Nano – DispatchLIVE

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