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.