THE ongoing strike in Sterkspruit is affecting social grant beneficiaries, with hundreds left without food over the weekend.
Hundreds of beneficiaries didn’ t receive their money as South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) officials were too frightened to travel to the villages following violent protests.
Many shops around the small town were also closed as the two- month-long protest continued, leaving many without any food.
The community have barricaded all roads in and out of the small town with burning tyres, rocks and logs as they fight for the municipality to be independent of Senqu local municipality, claiming a lack of service delivery.
Passing vehicles were stoned while in other areas, especially Mokhesi village, communities engaged in running street battles with police.
Sassa officials told the Daily Dispatch that it is too risky for them to travel to the villages when conditions were still volatile.
The pay date for some beneficiaries has passed and they will now have to bear the cost of travelling to town to fetch their money.
“On Thursday we woke up early in anticipation of getting our social grants at the pay point. We remain hopeful that the vehicle carrying the social grant cash will arrive any time. But it did not arrive,” said 85-year-old Nomziwamandlovu Valashiya, of Machachuma village.
“We did the same thing on Friday and we returned home, empty handed, hungry and with no food.”
Other pensioners have camped at Sassa offices in Sterkspruit for the past five days.
Nobesuthu Makhoba, 85 of Manxeba village, whose pension was due Thursday, has been at the Sassa offices since the weekend.
Social development provincial spokesman Gcobani Maswana refere d queries to Sassa who are dealing with social grants.
Sassa provincial spokesman Luzuko Qina confirmed that officials were afraid to go to the villages.
“We have been affected by the strike and we cannot reach some of the areas. We cannot take a risk. Fortunately most of the beneficiaries have smart cards which they can use anywhere,” said Qina.
He also stressed that all beneficiaries could access their money on the first of every month.
The chaos started last Monday when residents expected to be addressed by Cooperative and Traditional Affairs minister Richard Baloyi, but he did not arrive.
One of the residents’ demands is that Sterkspruit be moved from Senqu municipality and be given its own municipality.
The town was closed the whole of Monday, with business estimating financial losses of R2-million. Chaos continued after the march well into the night.
On Friday a 15-year-old boy was killed during a clash with police.