Elderly man dies in queue

2009-12-08 00:00

A PENSIONER died at the Northdale office of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) yesterday while waiting for an application for a review of his grant to be processed.

Last month, a woman died while waiting in a queue at Sassa’s Pietermaritzburg office.

Witnesses to the incident said the combined factors such as the man’s age, his illness and the stress of spending long hours standing in the queues waiting for help were probably what had caused his death.

“He had been here since the early hours of this morning,” said one of the witnesses, who did not want to be named.

“He was sitting next to me with his head down, and then he started to lean against the chair and his head started moving sideways, and then he started having what looked like a heart attack and that was when we realised that there was something wrong.

“We put him on the floor and tried to fan him to help him breathe, but to no avail, and when I opened his eyes they got stuck opened and that’s when I knew that he was gone.”

The source said they tried on numerous occasions to get help for the man.

“We called the ambulance and it took more than an hour to arrive. And the security guards at Sassa refused to help; we had to use our phones to call for help.”

The paramedics worked furiously for over 20 minutes trying to resuscitate the man, while the long queues of people stood outside and watched in disbelief.

The members of the public at the scene blamed the long queues and the “snail’s pace service” at the offices for the death.

“The old people are lumped in the same group as everyone else; if the people over 50 were treated as a priority, this man’s life might have been saved.”

Derrick Banks of ER24 confirmed the incident.

Officials at the Sassa offices would not comment on the incident, saying they were unable to confirm it.

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