Ques­tions asked af­ter el­derly die of ‘ne­glect’

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MASEGO PANYANE Masego.panyane@inl.co.za

THE Gaut­eng depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment has ex­pressed shock at the deaths of two el­derly peo­ple, in sep­a­rate cases, that may have been caused by ne­glect.

Eighty-six-year-old, Mmamo­jalefa Tshe­fane was dis­cov­ered by her neigh­bours in Mo­let­sane, Soweto, af­ter they had not seen or heard from her daugh­ter and a per­sis­tent smell be­gan em­a­nat­ing from her house.

Ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment spokesper­son Mbangwa Xaba, they were told by Tshe­fane’s neigh­bours that the last time they saw her daugh­ter was around De­cem­ber 16. The el­derly woman’s body was only dis­cov­ered on De­cem­ber 31. At the mo­ment, the cause of death is un­known.

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent in the same area, Bheki Maloka, 61, died at Chris Hani Barag­wanath Hos­pi­tal af­ter be­ing dis­cov­ered by his lo­cal coun­cil­lor, Mpho Sesedinyane. The coun­cil­lor found the el­derly man in his shack, sick and with­out food or care. Maloka was rushed to hos­pi­tal. He died in hos­pi­tal on Jan­uary 7. He was be­lieved to have been suf­fer­ing from a longterm ill­ness.

In a state­ment re­leased by her depart­ment, Gaut­eng Depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment MEC Nandi May­athula-Khoza said it was un­ac­cept­able that th­ese two el­derly res­i­dents died this way – left to fend them­selves and with­out care.

She said it was un­ac­cept­able that a grand­mother was left to fend for her­self un­til her last breath.

“I can­not come to terms with what has hap­pened here with th­ese two el­derly res­i­dents. But, for now, what is ur­gent is to give the two el­derly peo­ple de­cent fu­ner­als. We are help­ing both fam­i­lies to achieve that.

“I have asked for an ur­gent meet­ing with key role play­ers in this com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing the City of Jo­han­nes­burg, the Gaut­eng Depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment Re­gional Di­rec­tor, the Gaut­eng Depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment Head of Age in Ac­tion Unit, the Faith Based Or­gan­i­sa­tion lead­ers, as well as the Com­mis­sion for the Pro­mo­tion and Pro­tec­tion of the Rights of Cul­tural, Re­li­gious and Lin­guis­tic Com­mu­ni­ties and other com­mu­nity-based or­gan­i­sa­tions to re­spond to chal­lenges in this com­mu­nity, but also to heighten aware­ness of govern­ment pro­grammes avail­able to the el­derly,” said May­athula-Khoza.

May­athula-Khoza said it was also clear that the abuse of the el­derly re­mained an is­sue and that her depart­ment would be strength­en­ing its pro­grammes aimed at en­sur­ing the el­derly were taken care of.

To­day , May­athula-Khoza and se­nior del­e­gates from her of­fice are sched­uled to visit the area where the two el­derly peo­ple lived in or­der to pro­vide sup­port to com­mu­nity and fam­ily mem­bers.

I can­not come to terms with what has hap­pened here

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