Large queues for grants

SOCIAL DISTANCE: Social development MEC Siphokazi ManiLusithi, left, and Premier Lubablo Oscar Mabuyane chat with an elderly social grant recipient on Monday at the OR Tambo Hall in Zwelitsha Picture: AMANDA NANO

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Zwelitsha residents came out in their numbers on Monday to collect their social security grants, patiently waiting in line while trying to adhere to social distancing regulations.

The GO! observed that recipients were called up in small groups to collect their grants, while also encouraged to maintain the recommended 1.5m distance apart.

SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) representatives were available to sanitise their hands.

One pensioner, who asked to remain anonymous, said the system was not explained properly when they arrived.

“They took us from the gate and told us not to be too close to each other. “I don’t know much about this thing, only what I’ve heard on radio,” she said.

Later in the day, Eastern Cape premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane visited and interacted with some of the elderly residents.

“Unfortunately, we have this system on grant collection which can reverse the progress we’ve made in fighting Covid19 but people must have their money to buy food,” he said.

“There are gaps in communication about the virus and there needs to be more done in the electronic space of communication. There is also a high level of ignorance among our people as well.”

He said the province was working hard to flatten the curve of the spread of the virus. “Unfortunately, it’s very expensive to test for the virus and we aren’t ready as a government,” he said.

“However, what is key is to do the basics of social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine, which is what we did with the three farmers and two officials that came back from Germany recently.”

SOCIAL DISTANCE: SASSA grant recipients practice social distancing at OR Tambo Hall in Zwelistsha on Monday. Picture: AMANDA NANO

Speaking on limiting numbers at pay points, social development MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi said it had its own set of challenges.

“We’ve asked that people are paid over a space of two to three days so that we don’t have too many people in one place.

“We ’ve had challenges of managing queues but the SAPS has been assisting to maintain social distance.”

At the King William’s Town Post Office, it was observed that social distancing was largely ignored by those queueing for their grants. At one point, the SANDF stepped in to re-enforce the social distancing regulation.

Zwelitsha taxi owner Loyiso Stebe said they were adhering to the measures stipulated by government for the safety of the people. Buses and taxi’s are permitted to operate between 5am and 8pm, until Friday April 3.

The provincial social development department is working together with ward councillors to identify families in need of social relief, especially hawkers.

Concerns and enquiries related to social relief during lockdown, can be directed to 0800-60-10-11 or email grantenquiries@sassa.gov.za

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