Questions asked after elderly die of ‘neglect’
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