Nomini Madubela (55) from Rooidakke in Grabouw reportedly fell over and died while waiting in line at a South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office at around 7am on Friday, January 15.

By the time the ambulance had arrived, she was already dead.

Speaking to Die Son, community leader Isabel Bailey said Madubela had been standing in that line since Thursday, January 14 in order to have her SASSA grant renewed. At the time, she was struggling financially and could not afford to put food on the table. She had reportedly not eaten in a long time.

“No one in their house works and the day of her death her daughter went out for a job so she can buy them food,” said Bailey.

This is not the first death in a SASSA line to be reported in recent days. The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has already launched an investigation after reports a person died from a heart attack at another Sassa contact point.

On Friday, police used water cannons to disperse people waiting in line at a SASSA in Bellville, in order to enforce social distancing. Many of these people were disabled and/or elderly.

“Police could have handled the situation of enforcing social distancing much better. To open up a water cannon on disabled and vulnerable people, that is not right, even under the worst circumstances,” said SAHRC head Chris Nissen.

“These are poor people that during lockdown and COVID-19 have got nothing, and they depend on that grant. In desperation, they queue there from 4am and some sleep there.”

Black Sash has condemned these actions and called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene.

“As a result of Minister Zulu and SASSA’s inability to manage the situation, beneficiaries now face the risk of exposure to COVID-19 while crowding outside SASSA offices, with the added threat of police callously using force in the form of water cannons,” reads a statement from Black Sash.

“The President must inform beneficiaries, and the nation, what will be done to ensure that non-violent means will be used to safely manage queues outside SASSA.  At a national level, an intergovernmental task team must urgently be established, with representatives from civil society, to resolve this crisis.”

Picture: Facebook / SP News and Info

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