WATCH | No social distancing or cops as hundreds queue at busy Sassa paypoint in Mamelodi

2020-03-30 13:53
A queue at Denlyn shopping centre in Mamelodi where people are lining up to collect their social grants

A queue at Denlyn shopping centre in Mamelodi where people are lining up to collect their social grants (Alex Mitchley)

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Hundreds of people queued for social grants at the Denlyn shopping complex in Mamelodi, Pretoria, where there was no police presence and a lack of social distancing amid the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Parts of Mamelodi township was abuzz with activity on Monday morning as the elderly and persons with disabilities made their way to retail points to collect their South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Denlyn shopping centre, queuing outside the closed gates, managed by three security guards.

READ | Sassa to pay grants early for the elderly and disabled amid coronavirus outbreak

While the guards attempted to limit the number of people moving in and out of the shopping centre, no social distancing was practised as people tried to force their way in to collect grants.

Meisie Makuwa, who was assisting her elderly mother to collect her social grant, described the queues as chaotic.

"[There was] no social distancing because everyone is pushing inside, it's very bad," Makuwa told News24.

Once inside, people had to start queuing again outside Shoprite, where two more security guards were managing the number of people allowed in the shop.

These queues were also long and most people were not practising social distancing.

"The way the system is controlled causes havoc. The process is bad," Makuwa added.

Makuwa, along with other people who did not want to be named, also questioned why there was no police presence at the shopping centre, which was very busy on Monday morning.

While private security guards manned the entrances, limiting the number of people allowed in the shopping complex and into Shoprite itself, there was no management of the queues as people pushed the line forward and stood on top of one another.

READ | Lockdown: Public transport hours extended for social grant recipients

The route to Denlyn also did not have any police roadblocks and it appeared that taxis, dropping off their passengers at the shopping centre were also filled to the brim.

Metered taxi drivers were also ferrying people to and from the shopping centre, filling the vehicles to capacity.

There was no management of transport at the shopping complex, which is a popular point for the collection of social grants in Mamelodi.

Business as usual

People also said there was no change in how the collection of grants normally happens, despite the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

With the exception of the gates being monitored at Denlyn, there has been no change in the collection procedures, Makuwa said.

She said the impact of this normality was worrying given that there is an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Makuwa and her mother started queuing at Denlyn at 07:00. By 10:30, they were still in the queue.

Most people who News24 spoke to said they believed that there would be a more coherent system in place to have social grant collections run smoother and safer under the current circumstances.

Earlier this month, Sassa announced that April's grant payments would be brought forward for the elderly and those living with disabilities in an effort to ease congestion at retailers and bank infrastructure to help minimise the risk of infection.

Read more on:    tshwane  |  mamelodi  |  pretoria  |  covid-19  |  south africa  |  coronavirus
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