‘They said the money is finished’ – pensioner who waited in queue for hours

Sarah Maake sits outside the store after she was told to wait for her pension grant. Pictures: Cebile Ntuli/City Press
Sarah Maake sits outside the store after she was told to wait for her pension grant. Pictures: Cebile Ntuli/City Press

While many people walked out of OBC Better Butchery at the Tembisa Plaza in the East Rand in face masks while carrying plastics packed with necessities and essentials, 87-year-old Sarah Maake had no such luck.

Maake, sitting with her acquaintances who, like her, were unable to get their pensions after they were told that the service had run out of money, said she had been at the Tembisa Plaza since 8am on Tuesday “to make my purchases early so I can go home”.

“I came here early and stood in the queue for a long time,” she said.

I used money to get here. Now I must wait and see what will happen.

“I am not sure exactly how long I stood in the queue for but probably more than two hours and then when I got to the point where I had to get my money, I was told there was no more money. They said it was finished.”

A distraught Maake, who lives in Ivory Park, told City Press this was the second day in a row she had been turned away after being told “the money was finished”.

“I used money to get here. Now I must wait and see what will happen,” she said helplessly.

The outbreak and subsequent spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus saw many flock to various retail stores in a panic to buy and stock up on food and other essentials.

Maake could not do so as she had to wait for her pension money. She said she had to take “taxis for two days to buy the food that we need”.

I am here because I need to be here.

“I know there is a lockdown and I know that I should be at home,” she said.

“I am not here because I want to be, I am not here because I don’t take this corona seriously. I am here because I need to be here. I need money to buy food. I am old and I am okay with staying at home and that is what I have been doing,” she said.

Collins Mosefwa, an employee at Moneyline Financial Services who sits next to the machines used by pensioners to access their funds, confirmed that the machines had run out of funds.

“We don’t have a record of how many pensioners we have made payouts to,” he said.

“One of our machines stopped working and the one that was working was only dispensing R200 notes for a while and then it stopped.”

He added: “The machine then started dispensing R100 notes for a while, and that is when the money ran out.”

“We ask that those who did not get money from us today go to the post office or use ATMs.”

We are scared and worried about this coronavirus

Outside the Post Office, 62-year-old Jacob Khoza was accompanied by a friend to get her pension.

He said they were trying to be careful and to take care of themselves.

“We are scared and worried about this coronavirus,” Khoza said.

“We can only work with what we have,” he said, stretching out his hands and looking at his gloves.

“We are scared of people right now. From what I have heard, this coronavirus kills and it is worse that we don’t even know what a person who has it looks like,” he said.

Tuesday marked day five of the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week, and Khoza who resides in Phumulong said he was worried about what would happen after the lockdown.

“Normally we are indoors but today we are forced to be here because of our needs. We will get what we need and head straight back home,” he said.

“Where do we get these sanitisers? We hear we must wash our hands regularly but with some of our situations, it is not always easy.”


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