Social grant recipients went home empty-handed last week after the Belgravia shop they were queueing at was robbed.
Two armed men entered the Checkout store – a South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) pay point – on Thursday June 1 as the shop opened.
They got away with hundreds of thousands of rands of grant money.
According to the store manager Lester Muller, the one robber pointed a gun at him and the other pointed a gun at the regional manager.
Mr Muller said they had been forced to the back of the store and told to open the safe. The men took three bags of cash and demanded that he and the regional manager lie on the floor. They then fled in a grey Toyota Etios.
Lieutenant Colonel Clive Muller, head of visible policing at Athlone police station, said the robbery occurred shortly after 8.30am and about R400 000 cash was stolen.
Customers had only noticed the robbery when the two men ran out of the store Mr Muller said.
No injuries were reported.
A 72-year-old pensioner, who did not want her name published, said she had been in the queue when the robbery happened.
“I was in the shop to collect my pension. There were three guys with hoodies on that walked in with us.
“While I was in the front of the queue, they held up the manager with a gun.
“It all went so fast. Within a few minutes they were gone.
“I was able to get my pension, but there were many who had to leave without it, as the queue went until outside the shop.
“This morning, I had a premonition that something like this might happen,” she said.
She said she was still quite shaken.
“I had to take my high-blood- pressure tablets when I got home. I think there must be more security to protect us pensioners,” she said.
Mr Muller said the grant recipients and customers had had to turn back. He had to put up a notice that saying there was no money to pay out the grants.
Lieutenant Colonel Muller said police were visible at SASSA grant payout points but the store manager denied it, saying police were not visible on Monday.
“They come around sometimes to check up but not all the time,” he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Muller said people should report suspicious behaviour.