R50 for transport to collect R350 Covid-19 grant

Many of the people queuing for their Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grants at Makhado post office came from out of town, some travelling as far as 87km to collect their payment.
Many of the people queuing for their Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grants at Makhado post office came from out of town, some travelling as far as 87km to collect their payment.
Image: GroundUp/Bernard Chiguvare

Ruben Mukhakwedzwa from Nzhelele in Limpopo spends R50 to travel to and from Louis Trichardt to collect his R350 Covid-19 grant. His local post office has not been able to pay him, he says.

When GroundUp visited the Makhado municipality post office in Louis Trichardt on Tuesday at 10 am, there was a long queue of people waiting for payment of their Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grants. Most people in the queue were from Nzhelele (87km away), Elim (22km away) and Madombidzha (14km away). They said they have not been served at their local post offices, which run short of money or have network problems.

“I lost hope of getting the R350 at our local post office,” said Mukhakwedzwa.

“I visited the post office several times last week but could not be served. At times they serve only 10 to 20 people and the staff tell us there is no money. They advise us to wait for a client to deposit so we can withdraw that money,” he said.

The journey to Louis Trichardt by bus costs him R25. He has to wake up at 4am to prepare for the trip.

“The week I tried queuing at our local post office I used to wake up at 3am, but never got anywhere near being served. The post office is a walkable distance from my home,” said Mukhakwedzwa.

“I have not had anything to eat since early morning and it is now 10.30am,” he said.

Lucky Baloyi from Elim said the queue at Elim post office is much longer than the one at the Louis Trichardt post office, and service is very slow.

“I queued for the money at Elim post office twice but could only dream of being served so I decided to try this post office. I arrived at Makhado at 6.30am but have not been served. The queue is fast moving so I hope to be served today,” said Baloyi.

He said he paid R17 for one-way transport from Elim to Louis Trichardt.

Baloyi used to work at a restaurant in Elim but lost his job before the lockdown.

For him, the R350 is a relief.

“This money will assist me very much,” said Baloyi.

A woman from Madombidzha who did not want to be identified said there was a post office within walking distance of her home, but she had not been able to withdraw her grant money there.

“The staff at Madombidzha post office tell us all sorts of reasons — there is no network, there is no money — but what we have come to understand is that most of the time these people are not serious about work.”

She said though she was scared of walking to the bus stop in the dark, on Tuesday she had left home by 4am and joined the queue at Makhado post office by 5am. She had not been served by 10.30am but was hoping she would receive her grant that day.

Post Office regional manager Kipchner Nkosi told GroundUp: “This trend of people coming to town, leaving their nearest post office, is all over the province. It’s their choice. We cannot deny them accessing the money from any branch.”

He said there had been a burglary at the Elim post office early last month and the computers had not yet been replaced.

Nkosi denied that some post offices only served up to 20 people or ran out of money. He said the post office only ran out of money when an “unexpected number” of people queued on a particular day.


  • This article was first published by GroundUp

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