WATCH | Police spray elderly, disabled grant applicants with water in Bellville for not social distancing

  • About 200 000 people have to reapply for their temporary disability grants after the lockdown extension ended in December.
  • On Friday, police outside Sassa's Bellville offices said only 110 people could be served, with wheelchair-bound people first.
  • This created a panic for many who had been queueing outside the offices to make sure they got in to apply for a grant.

Police turned a water canon on people waiting to apply for grants at Sassa's Bellville office. This was after giving them one minute to socially distance.

Hundreds of people were queuing and police were reading out the dates they must return. 

"People behave yourself. I'm warning you to social distance," said a policeman from the truck with the water canon mounted on it.

They were given a minute to socially distance in line with Covid-19 regulations and then a jet of water was sprayed at them. People who could, ran.

Many had just dried off after being rained on during the morning.

People are held in place with police tape Sassa Be
People are held in place with police tape Sassa Bellville.

People had been queuing outside the offices to make sure they g0t a chance to reapply for their temporary disability grant after the lockdown extension ended in December. 

Around 200 000 people countrywide have had to reapply for their temporary disability grants.

In Bellville, police had told the growing group that only 110 people could be served, with wheelchair-bound people first. This created a sense of panic in the group, as this means they must personally go to offices which are understaffed due to Covid-19 regulations and staff illness.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu also climbed into the armoured vehicle and pleaded with them to socially distance. People shouted at her: "We are hungry," as she did her walkabout. Zulu was there amid calls for the crisis to be resolved.

One person's wheelchair toppled off the slippery pavement and landed in the wet road as it rained. Many had slept outside the office after temporary disability grants were stopped last month. 

"I have waited here for three days!" shouted a woman angrily as a Metro Police officer put his shoulder into the large group of people trying to get into Bellville's Sassa office. 

He was trying to get them to form a queue, but they were panicking about losing their place and held firm.

A roll of yellow police tape was pressed against them and rolled out to the end of the line as it wound around to the back of the building.

"People! If you do not social distance this office will not open," a police officer shouted as he tried to calm everybody. A man in a wheelchair fell into the rain-soaked road as his distressed helper failed to catch him in time as he rolled off the sloped pavement.

They scrambled for their precious IDs that were getting wet and tried to navigate their way around a group of full dustbins blocking the pavement near Sassa's front door. 

"My brother came out of hospital with cancer and he just wants to apply for his disability grant," rasped Loraine Piper, who says she also has throat cancer. 

"We have waited here for three days," she said, moving a blanket to show Michael's severely inflamed and swollen foot.

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