Elders seek government's protection

Friday, October 4, 2013

By Gabi Khumalo

Cullinan – Senior citizens have made an earnest appeal to government to assist and protect them from their children and grandchildren, who continue to abuse them.

They made the appeal during an interactive dialogue held on Friday at Refiloe township in Cullinan, where they were given an opportunity to voice the challenges they face on a daily basis.

The dialogue was part of the International Older Persons Focus Week. It was held under the theme, ‘The Future we Want... What Older Persons are saying’.

The event was hosted by the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, in partnership with the Correctional Services Department through the Zonderwater Correctional Centre.

During the dialogue, the elders highlighted some of the challenges they face - from being left penniless by their children who take their pension grants, to loan sharks keeping their bank cards as collateral and taking their money on pay days.

“Our own grandchildren abuse us. I once went to the police station and reported them but nothing happened,” one elder told the packed hall.

Some of the elders, who are being fed at a community centre in the area, also asked the department to provide them with dinner. The, centre currently provides breakfast and lunch.

“When we go back home in the afternoon, we don’t have anything to eat in the evening since our children spend all our grants and leave us with nothing,” complained an elders.

Through the Offender Rehabilitation Programme, the Zonderwater Correctional Centre has been working with the Older Persons Forum of Refiloe township, supplying them with blankets, wheelchairs and meals.

Director-General for the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Veliswa Baduza, encouraged the elders to ensure that they have all the necessary documents that will help them to access food parcels.

She promised to liaise with the Social Development Department to help them get food parcels, which are being delivered to struggling families.

“It pains me to hear some of the challenges experienced by our elders. We would like to encourage them to work with us … so that they can live a healthy life and be safe.

“We need to sit down and reflect on where things went wrong with our children and grandchildren, so that we can go back and revisit the old values and come back with some programmes that can assist us to address those challenges,” said Baduza.

Inkosi Chillies Mahlangu, from KwaMhlanga challenged the elders to work in partnership with government to ensure that their concerns are attended to.

“Government is trying to assist us, but we must also work hand in hand with local councillors and traditional leaders. If we take a seat back, things will not change. Let’s help each other in order to ensure that we get service delivery.

“Government should come to us and assist where it can, but we also need to stand up and do things ourselves,” Inkosi Mahlangu said.

Since the dawn of democracy, government has ensured that every elderly person receives the same old-age pension, irrespective of race.

Government has changed the lives of older persons by giving them free essential services such as water, health care, housing and energy in various municipalities and districts. – SAnews.gov.za

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