As pensioners and social grant beneficiaries make their way to pay points across the country, Cape Town grant holders expressed frustration over unfulfilled promises to be prioritized during the lockdown. On Monday, VOC News visited the Post Office in Athlone, where some elderly had been waiting outside since 8am. While some had taken a seat on the concrete slab at the nearby bus stop, others – even the disabled – were forced to stand in a long queue of about 30 people.
According to one pensioner, Caroline Kesey, the group was told that the post office ran out of money and it is unclear whether or not they will be served today. Hours later, the manager once again emerged and confirmed that monies will be dropped off, but no time has been given.
“We must just wait and see. But now what if that van doesn’t come?” questioned one pensioner.
“Then we must stand here for nothing and go home and come back again…that is not fair!” she exclaimed.
“The president did say that there will be no issues and no problems, we can just go and get the money. But look now, we are already running into problems.
What happens after the 31st to the people that must still come collect their money?” asked pensioner Abida Ismail.
“I think the lockdown is a very good thing and we need to sanitize when you get home because you must think of your family. It’s really a serious thing. What’s happening here now, is another thing. We were told that if we’re going to come here then we’re going to be sorted.
“But it’s already 12.30pm and we’re still standing. We’re exposed to the virus at the end of the day. Government must sort this thing out,” said Hazendal pensioner Mishqah Williams.
Around the corner at Shoprite’s Athlone branch, two long queues snaked along the building, with impatient customers starting to feel the heat. The midday sun had begun beating down and young children, who were most likely accompanying their single parent to the store, gathered in the shade across the road.
There were two lines: one for the elderly and disabled collecting grants and another for regular customers. The elderly stood leaning against the wall, or on each other for support as the line painstakingly moved forward, with only one or two people being let in at a time.
For stores to stay open, the rules were clear: provide hand sanitizer to ensure customers are hygienic, encourage queuing customers to maintain a gap of at least 1m and limit the number of people inside the store.
Outside, a sign urged those in line to maintain social distancing, but management and officers only came out after 1pm to separate people.
“Now they want to separate us!” came a sarcastic voice from the queue.
“We’ve been standing on top of each other the whole time!” came another.
Speaking to those in line, many felt that police or traffic officers, who were seen driving past, should be the authority who enforces the social distancing rule.
Others stated that the government should be supplying hand sanitizers and masks.
“With this virus, we have no direction. We don’t have a problem to stay inside, but the kids don’t want to stay inside…. they want to be outside so what can we do?” questioned Riedewaan August from Manenberg.
“We need help because there aren’t masks or gloves or anything- we haven’t been given anything so how do we keep our children safe? Then, how are we going to live if we don’t work? We can’t even work now. I don’t think this shutdown is going to work,” added August.
“It’s very sad. I do understand that the president and government is doing its best but try and provide more sanitizers for the people, especially the elderly. Try and work out something for transport where the food is concerned because they can’t stand in the queue whole day…it’s a long queue,” said Natasha Georgie from Kewtown.
“I’m getting frustrated standing in this line since this morning and I’m sure everyone else also is. At least try to keep the shops open till, 8 or 9pm. People turn around because they can’t stand the whole day. They get hungry, at least provide outside toilets!” added Georgie.