Hobos charge R50 for places in the UIF queue

Mkhuseli Sizani

Dozens of hobos in Nelson Mandela Bay are using the long queues at the Department of Labour to their own benefit. 

More than three million South Africans have lost their jobs since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the Department of Labour offices are crowded daily by people claiming their unemployment insurance. But because of the Covid-19 precautionary measures the Department can only serve 200 people a day.

Hobos who hang out near the Port Elizabeth Department of Labour in Govan Mbeki Avenue, often around nearby shops, spend the day in the queue, then sell their space for R50 to applicants.

Nkosinathi Ngalo, 29, of Govan Mbeki Township said: “We have to hustle for our families. Since the outbreak of Covid we have not been able to walk freely and ask for piece jobs. Then we decided to come and sleep outside this office and sell space to people for R50.

“People don’t want to stand too long in the queues but we do that for them. In a week I make R250 and that helps me to support my jobless mother and two siblings.”

His friend Aphelele Simon, 25, said: “I quit school in grade 11 because there is no bread winner at home. We are more than 50 (hobos) and many people make use of our services.”

Zoleka Mabija, 33, of Motherwell said they are life savers. 

“I have an 18-day-old baby. I arrived here at 3am because last week I was turned away at 8:30am because it was full. But today I am number two because I bought the space.”

Linda Peter, 37, from Wells Estate said, “Four times I paid R100 for transport for each trip. But I was never assisted. Today I have bought the space and I am number one in the queue.”