Pathetic response to elderly dying of neglect
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 govern- ment 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. Pastor Les Sanabria
MEC of Social Development Nandi Mayathula-Khoza visited Moletsane and Tladi in Soweto this week after the death of two elderly people.