Pa­thetic re­sponse to el­derly dy­ing of ne­glect

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Pas­tor Les Sanabria

IN THE STAR of Jan­uary 10, 2017 I read about the fact that two older per­sons died of ne­glect.

The MEC, N Khoza, has now de­cided to in­sti­tute an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and to call lead­ers of the com­mu­nity and oth­ers to do some­thing.

What a sick and pa­thetic re­sponse to a sec­tor of our peo­ple who have been de­lib­er­ately ne­glected by the gov­ern­ment that is sup­posed to pro­tect them.

As a mem­ber of the Human Rights Sec­tion 11 Com­mit­tee for Older Per­sons, I can say that this very same Depart­ment of So­cial Devel­op­ment par­tic­u­larly in Gaut­eng has been guilty of not im­ple­ment­ing the Older Per­sons Act 13 of 2006.

At present this very depart­ment is spending its time mon­i­tor­ing 77 old age homes which it is sub­si­dis­ing, while there are over 249 res­i­den­tial facilities that have not been reg­is­tered. In this re­gard the depart­ment was told that all res­i­den­tial facilities in­clud­ing re­tire­ment vil­lages had to be reg­is­tered by De­cem­ber 31, 2016 in terms of the Older Per­sons Act.

Just think! 10 years have gone by and in all the an­nual reports and bud­get speeches there has been no men­tion or even an in­di­ca­tor about reg­is­ter­ing these pri­vate facilities.

On a per­sonal note, in terms of the Older Per­sons Act, I, as an older per­son, was as­saulted. When I re­ported this to of­fi­cials of the depart­ment I was told to lay a crim­i­nal charge. In terms of the Older Per­sons Act, it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the so­cial work­ers in the depart­ment to in­ves­ti­gate all abuses and not leave it up to vic­tims to re­port such mat­ters to the po­lice.

In ex­am­in­ing the way the depart­ment ful­fils its re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards older per­sons, I am amazed that the gov­ern­ment has cho­sen to ig­nore all rep­re­sen­ta­tions made by those work­ing with older per­sons.

To il­lus­trate, in the 2007/8 fi­nan­cial year a sub­sidy of R1 523 per per­son per month was given by the depart­ment. This re­mained un­changed up to the 2014/15 fi­nan­cial year in spite of the fact that we have had a re­ces­sion and con­tin­ued price in­creases im­pact­ing on food and ser­vices. It sub­se­quently was in­creased by R60 a per­son per month.

What a dis­grace, or is it pos­si­ble that the depart­ment doesn’t care?

Many homes in the past 10 years have closed or have been forced to turn away per­sons with a state old age grant. This short-sighted ap­proach has opened the door for a mush­room­ing of “old-age homes” in all the met­ros in Gaut­eng.

These “old-age homes” are in fact the guest houses that peo­ple built to ac­com­mo­date spec­ta­tors to our soccer world cup. Now older per­sons pay at least R3 000 a month for a room.

I know this be­cause my own mother was in two of these “homes” and, in spite of my hav­ing re­ported it to the depart­ment, no ef­fort has been made to close down these un­reg­is­tered facilities.

If the MEC is gen­uinely se­ri­ous about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, then she should in­struct her pro­vin­cial direc­torate to pro­duce a list of those up­wards of 60 years of age and pro­vide ac­tive age­ing pro­grammes for these peo­ple.

In clos­ing I would like to en­cour­age the MEC to ac­tively en­gage with the ex­ist­ing wel­fare struc­tures con­ve­niently ig­nored by some se­nior of­fi­cials in the depart­ment. Crosby, Johannesburg

MEC of So­cial Devel­op­ment Nandi May­athula-Khoza vis­ited Mo­let­sane and Tladi in Soweto this week af­ter the death of two el­derly peo­ple.

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