PICS: Confusion reigns at Pinetown UIF offices as coronavirus lockdown looms

By ANELISA KUBHEKA Time of article published Mar 26, 2020

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Durban - WITH the looming national lockdown, panic-stricken Durbanites  flocked to the Department of Labour’s offices in Pinetown to sign for their next Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) pay cheque.

Those in the snaking queue told the Daily News that some of them began arriving at 4am.

“We don’t know what will happen after the shutdown. I depend on my UIF,” said Bheki Msomi of Inanda.

He said the gate usually opened at 7am but this was not the case yesterday. Msomi said after 7am, people in the queue started becoming rowdy, demanding answers.

“It was not until the police arrived and department officials could hear the noise we were making out here that they came out with gloves and masks, carrying boxes,” he said.

They were given application forms to fill in and were asked to place them in boxes once they were done.

“I’m diabetic and can’t stand for long. What is confusing is that this UIF money doesn’t belong to anyone but us, we contributed. Since the shutdown was announced we have been on edge wondering what will happen to our UIF pay cheques,” said Msomi.

An unemployed Mariannridge resident, who did not want to be named, said she had arrived at 5.30am.

“For us unemployed people, if we don’t get this UIF we go hungry. As it is, my cupboards are empty,” she said.

“I don’t know what happened here today. They normally don’t operate like this. We can’t have so many people in one place, this is cross-contamination of germs. They need to manage how they’re going to do things,” she said.

Another woman said she was there to get clarity as they had received a letter from the firm where she was employed, stating that the staff would be working less hours.

“That means I can’t pay my bills. When the president announced the shutdown he said the UIF could help those in my position.”

Labour Department spokesperson Nhlanhla Khumalo said they had taken precautionary measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus and one of these was to provide boxes in which clients should place their UIF applications for processing.

“We are taking precautions to limit direct contact. Some sections of the department would remain operational, as indicated by the president and the Minister of Employment and Labour.”

He said they were also putting in place measures to ensure continued payments of UIF benefits.

Daily News

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