The government has conceded the first round of social grant collections during the lockdown had teething problems as there was no enforcement of social distancing in the long queues.
Long queues, a lack of queue management, issues of social distancing not being adhered to, and cash running out at certain collection points were just some of the issues faced by the South African Social Security Agency on Monday as people came out in their droves to collect their grants.
At the Denlyn shopping complex in Mamelodi, there was no police presence or queue management as hundreds of people with disabilities and the elderly lined up to collect their grants.
In Tembisa, there were also issues of long queues with people not practicing social distancing, a necessary precaution to protect against getting Covid-19.
There were also reports of cash depletion at some post office outlets due to the higher than normal number of people collecting their monthly grants.
These issues have been addressed and measures were being put in place to resolve the problems that were faced as grant collections continued on Tuesday, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams told News24.
On Tuesday morning, Ndabeni-Abrahams, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and Gauteng Social Development MEC Lesufi Panyaza visited several Sassa collection points.
While visiting the Mamelodi Post Office, Ndabeni-Abrahams said day two of the collection of social grants was running smoothly with shorter queues and better management.
She added police and SA Defence Force reinforcements were requested which had helped with the management of the queues.
“When it’s [the queues] inside it is easy to control unlike when it’s outside, which is what we experienced yesterday, because there was long queues of people on the streets,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
“It’s difficult for employees to go outside to control, which is why we asked for reinforcements from the police and army, it has helped where they intervened.”
Ndabeni-Abrahams added it was important to increase awareness around social distancing, telling people they would get their money, but they still had to keep themselves safe while waiting in line.
She said issues of cash shortages have been addressed.
Lesufi conceded there were issues that needed to be worked on and emphasised the need of law enforcement at the different collection points.
“We are pleased that the situation is cooling off, but tomorrow is going to be a headache because all other grant recipients are getting their money tomorrow.
“The law enforcement part, it is really defeating the purpose of the lockdown. Things might start going back [to normal] because people don’t see the police and feel that they can do as they wish.”
Lesufi said he had noticed an improvement in the management of queues on Tuesday as well as more seating for the elderly at different collection points.