“You’ll be a minister one good day. If not, you’ll be responsible for somebody or something and you’ll be confronted with situations. Grow up!”
This is what social development minister Lindiwe Zulu told a critic who raised concern about the police using water cannons on social grant applicants outside a SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) office in Cape Town.
Zulu had posted a picture of herself climbing out of a police van during a visit to the office, which she captioned, “All in a day’s work. We go there to help solve the problems”.
While some praised the minister, many slammed Zulu for the post, with one claiming she was “in the comfort of a nyala while our grandmothers with disabilities were being sprayed with water. Ay, unesibindi mama [you have the gall]”.
Another wrote: “This is the same truck that was used to water spray on old people with disabilities. Sies, you are afraid of white people and yet oppress black people.”
Zulu responded: “You will grow up to the challenges of the world. Hope you rise to the occasion.”
She told another critic, who accused her of acting like a celebrity, to not be “irritated” by her work.
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Scores have flocked to Sassa offices across the country to apply for temporary disability grants after the agency cancelled more than 200,000 temporary disability grant payments on December 31. The grant is for South Africans who cannot work due to illnesses or disabilities.
Responding to police using water cannons to force applicants in line to adhere to social distancing, human rights organisation Black Sash called for the intervention of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
TimesLIVE reported that Zulu told journalists at the Sassa office that her department “should have been able to plan better” for the grants which lapsed this month.
On the use of water cannons, the minister said the situation had grown out of hand.
“Nobody would ever want to use water cannons just for the sake of it. The bottom line is that the situation was getting out of hand and people were refusing to social distance and queue,” the minister said.