#CoronavirusSA: Chaos at Sassa pay points on day one

#CoronavirusSA: Chaos at Sassa pay points on day oneElderly people in uMthatha queueing for their payments: Credit(Lindiwe Pakati/Health-e News)

Grant beneficiaries converged en masse at pay points in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape as fake news circulated that the grant top-up would only be paid on the first day.

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Hundreds of people from villages in the OR Municipality region travelled to Mthatha fearing they won’t be able to access the temporary coronavirus South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grant increase.

 Government has increased grants for the next six months to assist vulnerable citizens cope with the economic impact of Covid-19.

Fake news spread that the raise would only be available on Monday. Desperate and fearful, some beneficiaries used the little money they had to hire taxis to get to pay points in time. Some travelled from Ngcobo, a long journey of over 80km. Many arrived in Mthatha as early as 3am.

 Feeling irritated but also satisfied

 Speaking to Health-e News, Thembazi Jayiya says: “I left my home at 3am. I’m still waiting and there [are] a lot of people, I’m tired. The queue is very long.” She says it is frustrating to see people jumping the queue.

 “But other than that, we are very pleased [with] the service of the OR Tambo Municipality because this time they have provided us with chairs instead of standing the whole day,” Jayiya says.

 She says she is excited about the incremental increase that government has provided.

 A woman with a disability, who wished to remain anonymous, says she is very angry. “We were told that we are not supposed to queue when we are disabled but I found myself standing in the queue without anyone helping me. I have been here since 6am. I’m tired now [and] my legs are swollen,” she says.

 Shocked

Mayor Thokozile Sokhanyile says she was shocked to see the number of people waiting. She adds although only the elderly and people with disabilities were meant to receive grants on Monday and Tuesday, many others arrived too. 

 She says they had to work extra hard to make sure social distancing was being observed. “It is level 4 but it doesn’t mean that the Covid-19 pandemic is over. We have asked ward councillors in the rural areas that they inform people through loud haulers about the importance of using their local pay points instead of travelling long distances, [the] use of masks, and maintaining social distance.” – Health-e News

 For more information on Covid-19 in South Africa, you can call the toll-free line on 0800 029 999, or you can send a message that says “Hi” on WhatsApp to the number 060 012 3456. You can also visit the SA Coronavirus website.