WHEN the state of emergency was declared earlier this year, strict measures were introduced at all the pay points for the old-age social grants in the North.
However, the rules were relaxed recently and informal traders are once again allowed at places where elderly people gather to receive their monthly grants, a situation that a lot of people are not happy about.
It is alleged that some traders try to trick their elderly customers, either inflating their prices or cheating them by giving them incorrect change.
Social grants are paid out once a month at specially designated points in the villages.
The informal traders erect their stalls a few meters from the pay points where they sell a variety of goods, including household goods, cooked food and traditional drinks.
However, many pay points are also located close to shebeens and some pensioners go straight from the pay point to the shebeen where they stay till late, squandering their money on alcohol and becoming vulnerable to robbers or risking misplacing their money due to intoxication.
Informanté visited a number of pay points and noted that practically all the elderly people comply with the requirement to wear a face mask.
Some are complaining that they find it difficult to breathe, but they are well aware of the necessity to wear a mask due to their advanced age that makes them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
However, the old habit of mingling freely persists.