They saved all year to be able to have a comfortable festive season, but when women from about 40 stokvels tried to withdraw their money from the KwaNobuhle Post Office, they were told there was no money.

For the past week, these women have been turned away at the door of the branch in Eastern Cape because it has run out of money.

The groups of stokvel members have accused the branch manager of playing the fool with them by constantly telling them to come back the following day, only to once again leave empty-handed because the post office never has enough money to meet the demand.

Of the 40 stokvels gathered outside the branch yesterday, they had saved more than R1m among them, which they were wanting to withdraw.

Bongiwe Mahlati, 26, who is the treasurer of her stokvel, said they had given notice at the KwaNobuhle Post Office last month already, notifying the branch they would withdraw their money from PostBank on December 5.

When she arrived to collect the money, she was told to return the next day and it had become the trend every day since, Mahlati said.

“I came here on Tuesday and was told to come back on Thursday. When I came on Thursday I was told to come the next day or try on Saturday because “‘imali iphele esithubeni” [the money was depleted along the way].

“Saturday they said they had money but there was no network so they couldn’t hand it out. Today we’re told there’s no money,” Mahlati said.

Mahlati said instead of being allowed to withdraw their money yesterday, staff at the post office contacted the police and they were kicked out of the office.

“We don’t save our money with the police, we save our money at the post office.”

The women gathered at the KwaNobuhle Post Office, some as early as 5am, hoping to be first in line to receive their money while constantly looking out for the money van to deliver their cash.

Agnes Naika, 57, said she feared going home because her stokvel members would not believe that she was not given the money again.

Naika said she did not know what she would eat for supper because she had hoped to have her money by now.

“My cupboards are empty. I don’t know what we’re going to do.

“When I left the house I told my grandchild to get ready because when I return, I was going to go buy her Christmas clothes,” Naika said.

Ntombizanele Nginase, 33, said: “This is our money. It does not belong to the government. We saved all year only to starve now because we’re being told there’s no money”.

Luxolo Tsawo, 25, said: “We starved ourselves throughout the year saving money hoping to end the year on a good note and now this is happening. It”s not right.”

Post Office Eastern Cape regional general manager Nombulelo Ngubane said the demand for money exceeded the cash that the branch had.

Ngubane said the branch manager had catered for a certain number of people but the number of people wanting money exceeded the money available at the KwaNobuhle branch.

“On Saturday, we arranged for another big amount of money to be dropped off but even then the money was depleted. We’ve now started to redirect them [to other branches] while we’re dispatching more money to the branch.

“We’re just unable to anticipate what the demand is going to be because people come in numbers and we’re unable to assist them.

“It’s not an issue of there being no money but rather the demand when it’s required and in the time it’s required.”