Hundreds desperately queue for hours outside Cape Town UIF offices

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) offices in Cape Town saw snaking queues around its building as hundreds came out in search of financial relief on Friday.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit hard as thousands were retrenched, businesses closed down and many lost the breadwinners of their households.

The UIF gives short-term relief to workers when they become unemployed or are unable to work because of maternity, adoption leave or illness. It also provides relief to the dependants of a deceased contributor.

However, the office in Cape Town has seen people queuing from the small hours of the morning, anxious to be seen by a consultant come rain or shine.

The African News Agency (ANA) spoke to some of the desperate people in the queue.

One of them was Themba, who said he had been in the queue since just after 5 am on Friday.

“I have been standing here for over six hours. I don’t even know if they’re going to help me or what. When it’s 3pm, they say they will not be taking any more people, but they close at 4pm,” he told ANA.

Themba said he was at the UIF offices to receive his second grant. His first payment only came through in November.

He said the biggest problem was staff at the UIF offices rescheduling appointments.

“They keep saying come in two weeks, when you do come in two weeks, they say come again in two weeks,” Themba added.

Another man in the queue showed ANA an appointment receipt he received and said he had been waiting for more than four months to receive his grant.

Many people in the queue shared similar sentiments and called out the Labour Department for the backlog and their unwillingness to assist.

Shereen Smith, who rose at 4 am to get in line, said: “I have been standing in the queue since 5.30 am, I am now only at the door (before midday). They don’t have a system; people come here at 9 am and just walkthrough. I don’t think that is fair. They don’t have customer service. People are fighting here because they don’t have a system. How is our country going to come right? They had a system last year, it was Covid, now it’s still Covid, but they take two, three people at a time.”

ANA reached out to the UIF and the Labour Department regarding the apparent backlog and lack of service and the queues, but all calls and queries went unanswered.

-ANA

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Hundreds of people queue outside the Labour Department building in the Cape Town CBD on Friday to claim their UIF grants

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