Monday, July 6, 2015

Pension day in SA

Since we've been home in South Africa, Grant and I have been to the ATM to cash MIL Pam's and Rina's monthly state pension. 

Now... you have to experience pension day in SA to believe it. In our small town (and all other small and larger towns) in the Free State, the banks cannot cope with the volumes of people cashing their state pensions from the 1st of every month. 

The population in the town of Marquard is about 3000; the population in neighboring Moemaneng - 3km from town - is 88,000 souls. At least 60% of those in Moemaneng draw either an old-age pension or a child benefits grant. The latter was implemented when South Africa became a democratic republic in 1994. It was initiated to assist for single mothers who had been dropped by the child's natural father; each child receives a social grant of R330/US$30 per month up till the age of 18. On the other hand, it also opened an avenue of abuse whereby the young girls now have babies from the age of 13; often two, three and four children in order to receive this grant. The result is thousands of fatherless children whose mothers are too young and inexperienced to look after them properly. Street children are the norm and not the exception in our society. 

Back to our monthly visits to the ATM/cash machines. We learnt very quickly that if we tried to go and cash the money after the sun rose on the 1st you stand in a L O N G queue for ages; when you get to the machine, the money is finished. That's our little town. We have three banks with ATM's and they all run out of money within the first few daylight hours. 

Grant and I set the alarm for 4 am, get up, dress in our warmest hoodies, boots, socks and knitted hats. Then we drive down town, stop at the ATM which Rina tells us charges the least for pensioners drawings and cash her and Pam's state pensions. Not a soul is around and the banks are still full of money. YaY! We've effected a no-fail system and will do this every month until we're employed in Africa again. Then Rina will wait until the 3rd or 4th of the month when the queues have lessened and take Pam to cash her pension. 

Last week at 9 a.m. we collected Pam at the center; I gave her her pension money. Then we drove down to one of our local supermarkets where she does a little shopping for the month. Her eyesight is bad so Rina helps her around the shop and to the till. Grant and I, having done our bit for the day, just wait in the car. This week, I'd taken six dozen koeksisters in a basket and sold them all to the pharmacist next door and the shop assistant before she put Pam's order through the till. 

Back at the center, we helped Pam to her room; she hooks in with Rina while I carry the shopping bags. She likes to unpack them herself. Meanwhile she reached into her wardrobe and brought out a rattle for Skabenga, the pup. (who is always with us) 

When we got home, I gave Skabenga the rattle. He grabbed it in his jaws and dashed around for ages enjoying the noise. I had to take a video...

Happy Monday to you all!


  1. I loved seeing the pup on the video. He certainly enjoed the rattle that Pam gave him. You mention a contract, has Grant got one now?

  2. Hello Jo, I love your cute pup Skabenga, adorable video. I do think think it is good for the economy to have these cradle to grave handouts, it is the same here. Young people do not want to work if they can get money for doing nothing. Very sad. I wish you a happy day and week ahead!

  3. Very interesting how things are different all over the world. Here the pensions are sent directly to banks (direct deposits). You access what you need by writing checks or using the ATM. No one has to keep all that cash with them all the time.

  4. so sweet playin with his rattle.. just like a baby would. well he is a baby. what a great idea to beat the lines early AM.. i do that to buy weekly supplies at our crowded store, go in before everyone wakes up.... we have exactly the same thing here, that you describe, more and more children with children, and the adults have more babies to get more money. but if they stop it, then the ones who need it will be hurt. looks like the whole world has similar problems

  5. How fun to see the puppy on video!! And You!

  6. Our pensions are sent direct to the French bank in €. At the moment we are enjoying the best exchange rate. I am not sure why you have to go to an ATM, cannot you pay by card or cheque to save carrying cash? I know there is a lot of fiddles going on with cards in RSA but is it that bad? Hope you are well Diane

  7. Oh...he's so cute!

  8. Oh, that is a cute video...such a cute puppy. We have the same here with handouts to those that don't/won't work. This one girl had 4 children, by at least 3 different dads....never worked. One was born premature and in the hospital for at least a couple months. All at taxpayer's expense

  9. I learned rather quickly not to go to a bank at the beginning of the month. Couldn't believe the length of the lines.

  10. That is terrible ! We get our pension on our bank account. Never cash. We too have such abuses mostly from Moroccan families who produce children and then live with the money they get for them. Fortunately it's a minority !

  11. BTW the puppy is so cute playing !!


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