Youth called to join fight against elderly abuse

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pretoria - KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Social Development, Weziwe Thusi, has called on South Africa’s younger population to play a greater role in protecting the elderly from abuse.

Speaking during her visit to Bambanani Old Aged Luncheon Club, in Phongola, on Wednesday, MEC Thusi said elderly people are increasingly being abused, mistreated, neglected and abandoned by family members who are primarily responsible for protecting them.

The visit was part of the provincial government’s Operation Sukuma Sakhe Programme, a call for the people of KwaZulu-Natal to overcome the issues that have destroyed their communities such as poverty, unemployment, crime, substance abuse, HIV and Aids and TB.

MEC Thusi said generally, there has been an increase in the number of elderly people who endure sexual, emotional and financial abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them.

“There has been a high number of rape incidents in KwaZulu-Natal. This worrying trend warrants urgent attention not only from the government but from the younger population, churches, civil society and traditional leadership.

“Communities need to ensure that they look after senior citizens right to the end of their lives and ensure that they fortify them from any form of abuse. African communities have for years been known for taking greater care of the elderly who are repositories of knowledge. We have to bring back that culture of jealously respecting and protecting our elderly,” MEC Thusi said.

The abuse includes theft of social security grants from the elderly, coercion to take many life cover policies or to purchase airtime.

MEC Thusi emphasised that while government, together with South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA), is working hard to stop these practises, government will not win this battle on its own.

It is the responsibility of relatives to constantly check if their grannies are not having their pension grants docked by these unscrupulous individuals and companies, she added.

Mamile Ngwenya, 68, from Bambanani Old Aged Luncheon Club commended government for taking care of the elderly.

“We have a serious problem in our communities. Grannies are often beaten, robbed and sexually abused, and the people who are supposed to protect us are not doing enough. We need our communities to form a united front against these atrocities. Our government is trying its best but it cannot win this battle alone,” said Ngwenya.

The provincial Department of Social Development has set aside approximately R100 million for the service to older persons programme for the 2015/2016 financial year.

The department has a responsibility to over 243 community based care and services, 48 residential facilities inclusive of state facility and nine welfare services.  –