Desperate residents trying to collect SASSA grants return day after day at Umhlali

Long queues are a daily occurrence at post offices on the North Coast as residents wait to collect South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grants.

The post office in Umhlali is one such location, and large crowds are arriving every day for assistance.

“We are trying to help as many people as we can every day, but we are often running out of cash with which to pay out grants,” said Umhlali acting branch manager Dhilip Premlall.

Limited amounts of cash are being delivered every day because of the security risks, he said.

There has also been sparse enforcement of mask wearing and social distancing measures.

“We are implementing a new system where informational posters are displayed so that the people arriving can be made aware of the danger,” he said. 

Similarly, a token system will be in place by next week so that people are not waiting for cash that is not going to arrive, he said.

The people in the line were desperate when the Courier visited the location, as many had no other options to put food on the table.

“This is my second day here because I wasn’t helped yesterday. I travelled this morning to arrive here at 4am, and still nothing,” said Mawethini resident Sihle.

People are making the longer trip to Umhlali, because the lines at the post office in KwaDukuza are even worse, he said.

Those who were waiting also complained about the lack of ablution facilities in the area.

“We are waiting here for 6 or 7 hours and there is no water to drink or toilets to use. We are just trying to survive,” said Sihle.

The toilet facilities at the post office are for staff use only, because they are inside the building and this poses another security risk, said Premlall.

There are no public toilets nearby, and with SASSA queues likely to be ongoing a solution needs to be found.

“I have reported this and we hope to hear back from head office soon,” Premlall said.