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Jobless but making a living queueing for others at Home Affairs, Sassa and clinics

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Unemployed and desperate for work, innovators from Cape Town’s townships are making money by standing in queues for people for a price of R50.

File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Unemployed and desperate for work, innovators from Cape Town’s townships are making money by standing in queues for people at Home Affairs, SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) offices and clinics, for a price of R50.

Waking up as early as 3am, 21-year-old Bahle Ngqula from Nyanga said he started the initiative when he lost his job at the start of the lockdown.

“My mother had an accident in February and I would go to the clinic to fetch her medication. That’s when I started seeing the long queues; people would queue for very long hours, even the elderly.

’’I saw an opportunity for me to make ends meet and help where I could. Luckily, I found someone who was also doing the same thing, so we joined in business and we call ourselves ‘Thumathina Sikuyele’ which means ‘send us, we will queue for you’,” he said.

Ngqula said they aspired to grow their two-person business and employ more people who were unable to get jobs, especially people with criminal records and those who had not finished school.

“There are so many people out there who can’t run errands, who need our help. We would also like to expand to other provinces as well.

’’Our challenge is that we wake up very early, so safety is always an issue. We are also saving to buy ourselves bicycles,” he said.

Mfundo Hashe, 40, of Khayelitsha, who charges between R30 and R40 to queue, said he started with helping the elderly with their grocery shopping.

“I started this kind of business around level 5 and level 4 of lockdown.

The business grew from helping people with their groceries to where now I queue at Home Affairs, Sassa offices, clinics and traffic departments. Since then I’ve never looked back.

’’It’s been hectic because sometimes I have to wake up at 4am and make sure that we are in front of the lines. But it’s what I’ve been doing for the past six months,” he said.

The oldest person in the business is 62-year-old Simphiwe Maqakaza of Nyanga, who has been standing in queues for busy people for almost three years.

“I do this because I am unemployed and don’t get any money from the government. I don’t want to knock on my neighbour’s door and ask for food.

’’I decided to work for myself. People contact me, some see me on the streets, and ask me to queue for them,” he said.

Maqakaza, who said he sometimes had to sleep outside Sassa the day before to be the first in line the next day, said: “It’s the way I live, it’s not much trouble. The customers are happy, there is food on the table and I always eat before I go to bed.’’

Cape Times