It is around 5am on the corner of Great Dutch and Sithandathu streets in Nyanga and young and old are burning cardboard to warm themselves as they queue to apply for social grants from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).
Many are wrapped in their blankets and duvets. Among them is Bukiwe Sotyantsi, 54, who suffers from asthma.
She has been calling Vukani to come and see how the applicants have to wait from early in the morning only to still not be helped.
Before speaking to Vukani on the cold morning, she pulled out her asthma pump and took a few puffs to ease her breathing.
She starts by saying “I called you to come see this k*k service by Sassa.”
Many seniors from Nyanga and surrounding areas are unhappy about the service they get at the Nyanga Sassa offices when applying for a social grant. They said the process is “pathetic and inefficient”.
Speaking to Vukani on Thursday May 23, they said they are always told that there is a shortage of staff.
Some have resorted to sleeping outside Zolani centre, hoping they will be helped.
Bukiwe Sotyantsi said she has been going there for more than three weeks.
“The question is when will we ever be loved and cared for by our government? This needs to be known that seniors are treated like nonentities in their own country. I cannot count the nights I slept out in this cold. I cannot think of a day I left my home early and was back early. This is ridiculous,” said the angry mother.
Vukani revisited the offices on Tuesday May 28 and there was no change in the length of the queues.
Ms Sotyantsi was still seeking help. “I called you last week, here I am again. There will never be change here. We are crying for help everyday but our pleas fall in deaf ears. I will sleep here again today and see how things will turn out,” she told Vukani.
Some of the people queuing are applying for grants for the first time while others said they need to submit forms.
Another mother Nomvuselelo Nomatye, from Lower Crossroads, said she was supposed to submit the forms three weeks ago.
“We are short-changed here and no one cares. These children are acting as if they do not have parents of seniors where they live. You must hear when they speak to us, you will never believe it. This is a serious matter that needs an urgent intervention.”
She fears she will reach a stage where she will not be able to travel to the offices every day.
“I have to borrow money from different people. This is not on. Maybe it will be good if one of us could die here,” she said.
Vukani sent questions to Sassa but did not get a response by the time of going to print.