Senior citizens urged to stop borrowing money from loan sharks

Monday, October 21, 2013
By: 
Gabi Khumalo

Johannesburg – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has made an earnest appeal to all older persons to take responsibility and stop borrowing money from loan sharks.

“The reason they [older persons] are now demanding for more money is because they can’t keep up their standard of living because they owe a lot of money to the loan sharks.

“The interest to some is 30%, but what is also sad is that older persons leave their IDs with loan sharks. If something should happen, your children have a problem organising (for example) an admission to hospital because you left your IDs and cards with mashonisas (illegal loan sharks),” Dlamini told older persons on Monday.

She was speaking at the launch of the first National Older Persons Parliament at the Gauteng Legislature.

A concerned Dlamini said that while government was trying to make the lives of senior citizens easier, it is now pushed to make their lives difficult. She said the department will no longer allow for any deductions to be made from pensioners’ cards. If they are owing money to anyone the debit orders will not go through.

“The department will be working towards shutting down every deduction from the pensioner cards.”

She noted that when the announcement was made on shutting down the deductions in June, older persons challenged the department.

She also warned older persons not to give out their pin numbers to their children and grandchildren since they will be able to access their accounts.

“Don’t allow the systems to be abused in your name. You are very important, you are an asset and we still need you and will fight against anyone who abuses older persons.”

Held under the theme, “Building A Caring Society For Senior Citizens Through Oversight & Public Participation”, the parliamentary sitting launched by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature in partnership with the National Department of Social Development aims to effectively address issues faced by senior citizens.

The discussions focused on:

  • Awareness and the implementation of the Older Persons Act, 2006 (ActNo.13 of 2006);
  • Older persons burden of care and their protection;
  • Active ageing; and
  • The impact of government services in the lives of older persons.

To date, three million senior citizens receive the old age grant.

Challenges facing older persons

Although the older persons commended the government for improving the lives of senior citizens, issues of abuse by their grandchildren and spending hours in long queues at health facilities when collecting their medication were some of the challenges.

They also noted the non-availability of RDP houses for them as well as being reliable for rates and taxes inclusive of VAT.

Elder, Vulindlela Msibi from KwaZulu-Natal, asked Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi to intervene and speak to health workers to treat them better.

Another elder, Patricia Balantane, called for laws to be tightened against drug abusers and those selling them. “These drugs make us vulnerable to the abuse by our grandchildren.”

The senior citizens also highlighted the role played by them, saying that democracy is not full democracy without them.

“Since 1994, we were just put aside; some of us experienced the fight for this democracy and brought the freedom. And today we are happy because part of that democracy has been implemented,” said one elder from Limpopo.

Among government’s achievements commended by the elders, included the improvement in old age homes and services offered there -- free medication for operations, desks for older persons and providing home based care givers.

“Thank you for Golden Games and music festivals as well as free medication,” one of the elders said.

Dr Motsoaledi said the department has asked the hospitals and clinics to separate the queues for elders, who only come to the facilities to collect chronic medication.

“We will make sure that this happens and  ensure that you receive the treatment you deserve, if you go to the hospital and you don’t receive this, go to the nearest department office and ask them to call me and report them,” said Motsoaledi. – SAnews.gov.za

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