South Africa

EFF in Western Cape slams plan to stop grant access at Stellenbosch post office

Cape Town - The provincial EFF has condemned what it has termed a “toxic collusion” between Stellenbosch University (SU) management, the SA Post Office (Sapo) and the SA Social Security Agency following a notice that the Matieland Post Office will stop disbursing Social Relief of Distress Grants (SDRs).

The EFF said this decision was insensitive as many poor black people who lived in and around Stellenbosch collected the R350 grant from that post office.

EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego said the post office was the only institution in the area that processed the grant and “yet they have the audacity to discontinue such services in order to further disadvantage poor people who are already disadvantaged”.

"It is rather unjust that poor people who have no money are made to travel even longer distances to get services from far-flung areas, where there is a post office in their nearby town that could offer similar services,” he said.

Sapo spokesperson Johan Kruger said in mid-August the university had requested Sapo not to pay R350 grants at the post office branch on the campus because the campus was still in lockdown mode.

“The branch in Die Boord was closed when the property owner ended our rental contract. That left beneficiaries in Stellenbosch without a post office where they can collect their R350 grant. For that reason we had a meeting with the management of the university, and the R350 payments have been reinstated at the branch on campus. We took additional measures to make sure that social distancing rules are observed,” he said.

SU spokesperson Martin Viljoen said SU did not co-operate with Sapo to keep people from the Matieland branch. He said the post office itself had decided to make arrangements to make (SRD) payments elsewhere.

Viljoen said the introduction of the SDR during the lockdown had put extra pressure on the campus branch of the local post office, which was unable to handle the volume of people who arrived for the grant.

“When Stellenbosch University and the centre management became aware of the difficulties experienced by those less fortunate who qualify for the SDR grant, we commenced discussions with Sapo with a view to once again start with the payments at the Neelsie (Matieland Post Office) until the completion of the new post office branch,” he said.

Viljoen said the new branch would open within the next three weeks.

Cape Argus

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