By Mswazie Dube
Thousands of unemployed Vaal residents risk contracting Coronavirus at collection points of the R350 Covid grants..
Hundreds of them are daily thronging a Post Office along Beyers Road in Vanderbijlpark without keeping any social distance. Some were not even putting on masks despite keeping a few centimetres apart in the long and winding queue. Others had their masks removed from both mouths and nose, leaving them hanging below their chins.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke to Vaal Observer, said they received messages to come and collect their money through whatsapp.
When asked why they were not getting their money through their bank accounts, one lady who answered from the crowd shouted: “Sassa never asked for a bank account, but sent me whatsapp notification directing me to visit the nearest Post office to collect money.”
Another man in the queue interjected: “We don’t have the luxury of asking a lot of questions after being informed that money is ready for collection. We just have to come here and collect the money and buy food for the children.”
Vaal Observer also inquired from the queuing grant beneficiaries, as to why they were not keeping social distance to beat the spread of COVID 19.
The queuing masses told Vaal’s largest digital newspaper, that they were aware of the dangers of Covid 19, but maintained that their interests were limited at grabbing their R350. In a rare display of ignorance of the deadly virus speaker after speaker expressed fear of starvation more than Covid 19 infection.
“As you can see this queue is too long and if I leave space in-front, someone will simply jump me. So I have no option except to squeeze in to get a chance to collect my money and put food on the table. Everything else is secondary my brother,” said one gentleman who only identified himself as Ben, a resident of Bophelong.
A Sassa social grant facility provide the option of paying through bank accounts. As to why such a facility is not being utilised to lessen chances of spreading the virus is mind boggling. Sassa has been in the news recently for their snail pace in processing payments for the most vulnerable members of the society.
Vaal Observer sent questions to Sassa and is still waiting for a response.
The security guards manning the queue said the crowds were uncontrollable.
“Even the police were here, but left because they got tired of these people. They don’t want to maintain social distance. I am only worried about masks, social distancing is not easy to enforce,” said one of the security guards who also preferred not to be named.
Statistics released today by Gauteng’s Health Department show that Sedibeng Covid 19 cases have jumped to 6269 from 5839. Emfuleni which is Sedibeng’s Covid 19 hotspot has 4654 active cases a leap from 4306, Midvaal is now standing at 551 from 509 while Lesedi jumped to 1022 from 982.