No social distancing during grant collection puts lives at risk
There were scenes of chaos in Limpopo in the past three days when people forced entry to pay points to collect their grants.
As many as 2,5 million people in South Africa need grants to survive. Limpopo MEC for social development, Nkakareng Rakgoale is concerned that precautionary measures, such as social distancing, to curb the spread of Covind-19 aren’t adhered to at such times.
Rakgoale, who was accompanied by greater Tzaneen mayor, Maripe Mangena visited Lenyenye Post Office and Maake Plaza to monitor the Sassa grants collection to older persons and people living with disabilities.
“I’m getting worried, I’m getting information that in other malls even young people, which we have humbly requested give space today and tomorrow so the elderly and the disabled [can get their money]. But I hear that young people who are getting child grants are all over malls wanting to get their money. We have requested them to stay in to avoid this traffic of people,” Rakgoale says.
Though the situation was calm within the post office and plaza, it was out of order outside as many Sassa beneficiaries and shoppers gathered outside the shopping centre and were pushing and shoving. Mangena says that an emergency plan is needed so people can comply with rules and regulations of the lockdown.
“We [have] to make sure that we are going to [increase] awareness to our communities. We unleashed the out-loud-hailers… reminding people that they must stay in their homes but [the situation here is] unfortunate. It would seem because of grants people are coming in their numbers,” Mangena says.
“But the message, particularly where we are right now at Maake Plaza, was [that] only elderly people, people [who are disabled] and perhaps pregnant women could be allowed to come today and that’s is what we are going to try to manage here. I think we are going to need an immediate intervention from the security cluster so that we can communicate with our people. We are worried that the social distancing is not necessarily kept,” he says.
Meanwhile, Michael Mkansi (34) from Khujwana Village who lives with a disability, has raised concerns and says police need to be deployed at pay points to ensure full compliance of lockdown protocols.
“[The] situation is bad, I think more police should be deployed at pay centres because people are not observing social distancing. People are out of order and [some] people are pushing there, mainly youth. There was announcement made for them to come on April 1, and they are not adhering to that call,” he says.
Rakgoale is calling on communities to assist Sassa beneficiaries to observe social distancing while collecting grants: “I think we are trying our best, the reality of the matter which everyone must take into consideration is that we are experiencing this for the first time. We are experiencing lockdown for the first time and all of us we must be patient and everyone [has a] civic responsibility to make sure we assist our people adhere [to it]. We’ve got a role to educate our people especially those of us who are given [the] responsibility [of] moving around.”
With limitations to the number of passengers taxis could carry, Rakgoale says they are monitoring the situation on the ground and would engage with the MEC should the need arise.
“The reality of the matter is that our Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu engaged the MEC for transport that he must extend the trading hours to be able to assist our people. It’s something that we will be observing and we will tell our minister perhaps to engage further to [let her know we are] still experiencing transport challenges. There are limitations with passengers that taxis can transport which can be a bit of a challenge. If [there aren’t many] taxis, [it] can create a problem for us and that is something which we observe today,” she says.
However there is a growing concern as taxi associations in Tzaneen have increased their prices and the department of transport has condemned the fee increment. “We have picked [it] up in the area of Bolobedu and we have condemned it. We spoke to Limpopo taxi council and they promised to resolve the matter,” says Matome Moremi, provincial transport department spokesperson.
Moremi says that so far 26 taxis have been impounded for violating lockdown regulations in the province. – Health-e News
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