The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - MASEGO PANYANE

THE GRUE­SOME de­tails sur­round­ing the death of an el­derly Soweto woman who was locked in her home for more than a week have emerged af­ter a visit from the Depart­ment of So­cial Devel­op­ment (DSD).

Of­fi­cials from the DSD yes­ter­day vis­ited Mmamo­jalefa Tshe­fane’s home, where neigh­bours al­leged that the grand­mother was abused and lived in squalor for more than a year.

The depart­ment said a case had not yet been opened, but they would as­sist in the fa­cil­i­ta­tion process to have one opened, in or­der for jus­tice to be served in line with their re­spon­si­bil­ity to older per­sons as cus­to­di­ans of the Older Per­sons Act.

Ac­cord­ing to neigh­bour Mpho Le­bepe, she dis­cov­ered that some­thing was wrong on New Year’s Eve when she no­ticed a foul smell and flies com­ing from Tshe­fane’s house.

“There was a per­sis­tent smell around us that smelt like dead rats or some­thing that was rot­ting,” Le­bepe said. She even­tu­ally peeked over the wall and re­alised the smell was com­ing from her neigh­bour’s home.

“When I looked over, I re­alised there were flies on the bed­room win­dow. The flies were now even mov­ing to­wards the din­ing room win­dow. That’s when I sought the as­sis­tance of the lo­cal po­lice and some of our other neigh­bours to come deal with this is­sue,” she said.

With the help of the po­lice, they broke down the kitchen door and man­aged to make their way in. They found Tshe­fane ly­ing on the floor, dressed only in her un­der­wear. When they looked around, they could not find any food in the house.

“There was a bucket next to where Nk­gono (granny) was ly­ing. In it the liq­uid in­side was black­ish. I could see from this bucket that the granny was pee­ing in this bucket for a long time. The bucket was also very stained,” Le­bepe added.

Dur­ing the visit, fur­ther al­le­ga­tions were made against Tshe­fane’s daugh­ter, who was ac­cused of lock­ing her up in the house for weeks. She has also been ac­cused of keep­ing Tshe­fane’s pen­sion grant card and spend­ing her money, us­ing the card to draw money af­ter her mother’s death.

The daugh­ter, whose name is known to The Star, will not be named at this stage as the fam­ily re­quested time for an ap­pro­pri­ate way to ad­dress th­ese al­le­ga­tions.

So­cial Devel­op­ment MEC Nandi May­athula-Khoza also paid a visit to the neigh­bours of the other el­derly per­son, Bheki Maloka, 61, who passed away in hos­pi­tal this week.

Ac­cord­ing to his neigh­bour Eliz­a­beth Mmut­lane, Maloka re­lied heav­ily on the as­sis­tance of his neigh­bours to sur­vive af­ter the death of his wife last year. He was trans­ported to hos­pi­tal ear­lier this week af­ter the ward coun­cil­lor re­alised, dur­ing a door-to-door cam­paign, that he was in need of med­i­cal at­ten­tion. He died in hos­pi­tal.

Ward 21 coun­cil­lor Mpho Sesedinyane said they were con­cerned about the preva­lence of cases of abuse against the el­derly in the area.

“We need the com­mu­nity to help us help the older peo­ple. The com­mu­nity needs to come for­ward and let us know when such cases hap­pen. With just th­ese two in­ci­dents, it’s clear we have a se­ri­ous prob­lem here, we need to find what the root cause of the prob­lem is, and then find bet­ter ways to ad­dress th­ese is­sues,” Sesedinyane said

The MEC said the death of th­ese two el­derly peo­ple would not be in vain be­cause the depart­ment in­tended to set up a pro­gramme within the next three months to en­sure peo­ple in this area knew they have places they can re­fer the el­derly who have no one to look af­ter them.


DY­ING OF NE­GLECT: MEC of So­cial Devel­op­ment Nandi May­athula-Khoza vis­ited ward 21 in Mo­let­sane and Tladi, Soweto, where two el­derly peo­ple died. It is be­lieved they were ne­glected and left on their own. The MEC was in the area to en­cour­age the com­mu­nity to look af­ter the el­derly.

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