It appeared ‘to be business as usual in Kimberley’.
THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Social Development, Martha Bartlett, spent Tuesday ensuring that Sassa pay points in Kimberley were operating smoothly.
While long queues formed at supermarkets and shopping centres throughout the city and in Galeshewe as people made use of the early payment of grants to the elderly and people with special needs to buy groceries, the payment of grants appeared to run smoothly.
Many other residents who are not grant recipients also made use of the opportunity to use the relaxed operating hours for taxis to do their shopping in town, which, according to one resident, was “the busiest I have seen it during the lockdown”.
During her inspections, Bartlett encouraged all Sassa social grant beneficiaries to continue practising social distancing as well as all other preventative measures to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
While most shops and centres attempted to achieve social distancing through various ingenious measures, like using chairs as spacers, some members of the public said it appeared “to be business as usual in Kimberley”.
“It really didn’t look like there was any lockdown,” one resident stated. “There were people everywhere. At the front of queues, close to the entrance to shops, one could see that there were attempts at social distancing, but further down the queue people were standing in close proximity to each other, like it was a normal day.”
He added that at Shoprite in the city centre the queue “went all the way around the block”.
“At some centres, the police were visible and attempted to keep social distancing by dividing the people into different queues, depending on whether they were waiting for the ATM or to go into the supermarkets.
“At other centres, however, people just stood around as normal. It seemed as though people were prepared to take their chances with the coronavirus because they needed to buy food and that was their biggest priority and concern.”
Another member of the public stated that it appeared as if there was less police presence in the city on Tuesday “and there was no sign of the army”.
“The police drove right past people walking in groups in the streets without even stopping. It seemed like they had given up trying to get people back into their homes.”
The situation is expected to remain busy on Wednesday when all other Sassa beneficiaries will also be able to receive their grants.