‘I got it’‚ says relieved pensioner
Sipho Mabena | 2017-04-03 16:40:35.0
Social grants recipients queue to collect their their grant money in Soshanguve near Pretoria in Tshwane.
Image by: Alaister Russell/The Times
Pensioner Sarah Mkhwanazi walked out of Falala Community Hall in Soshanguve‚ North of Pretoria‚ beaming as she waved her old age grant receipt and exclaimed‚ “I got it”.
Relief was written all over her face as she walked towards a number of stalls lined up around the social grant pay point and pulled out a crisp new R200 note to buy fresh vegetables.
“After that month-long anxiety‚ I am relieved. I cannot imagine what would have happened if I did not get my pension. Why exactly were we put under so much stress of not knowing whether we would be paid or not? All that worry was for nothing‚” she said.
The 75-year-old widow quipped that the government would have to deal with the elderly and the frail who would use their walking sticks and wheelchairs to block the roads in anger if the grants were not paid.
The R1 600 is the only lifeline for her and her only daughter and her two grown up grandsons she she shares a cramped home with in Block F.
“My daughter and her sons are not employed so we survive on this grant. Sometimes they do get odd jobs but that hardly happens so we would have been finished if the grant did not come through‚” she said.
Maria Moloi‚ also 75‚ was still in the long‚ meandering queue when she spoke to The Times.
She said despite repeated undertakings from government and social development minister Bathabile Dlamini‚ she would only relax when the money landed in her hands.
She kept asking those descending the community hall stairs whether they had received their money.
“Yes‚ I see people walking out and they say they have got the money. I will believe it when I see it‚” she said.
The anxiety and fears that pension grant beneficiaries could be left high and dry on April 1 was sparked by the lapsing of the contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) on March 31.
Though it had declared the contract invalid‚ the Constitutional Court averted the looming crisis by allowing CPS to continue to make pension grant payments.
The social development department was expected to take over the social grants payment or find another company to do so by end of March but failed to deliver on this undertaking made to the court.
National Treasury refused the department’s attempts to extend the contract‚ citing contempt of Constitutional Court order if it did allow the extension
The court extended the contract for 12 months‚ giving Dlamini until March 31 to explain why she should not be personally liable for court costs.
The department has to update the court every three months on progress made on the process of taking over the payments of 17 million beneficiaries.
– TMG Digital/The Times