Concern over continuous abuse of elderly

KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza has raised concern over continuous incidents of abuse of older people in communities.

This follows the rescue of an elderly person who was found locked in the house without food in Lindelani, north of Durban.

It is alleged that a terrified passer-by heard screams and cries of an elderly person pleading for help coming from a house.

Upon investigating the locked house, people noticed an old person identified as Sizakele Siziba, aged 76, sleeping on the bed.

It is alleged that Siziba, who resided with her grandchild, was left alone in a terrible condition, and at times she relied on neighbours to provide her food.

Khoza said the department is not expecting that senior citizens suffer such abuse from their own children.

“It is disheartening that we find ourselves in this situation because we always encourage people to inform us if they are unable to take care of senior citizens,” Khoza said.

Khoza dispatched a team of social, who immediately removed Siziba to an old age home. She said Siziba will be provided with the necessary psychosocial support, including debriefing and trauma counselling.

“Although social workers are still going to conduct an investigation, based on what was shared with us by the public, including the video circulating on social media, our team has removed Gogo Siziba to a safer and more comfortable environment.

“However, removing her is not good enough. We also want to know who has been using her old age grant. These grants are an intervention to cushion old persons from poverty. It is a crime for anyone to take the pension of an older person and fail to provide food for them,” the MEC said. 

She also warned that if anyone found to have been taking the pension of the old person, and using it for themselves, they need to be arrested.

“We will open a criminal case against the person while ensuring that this grandmother gets a new South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) card to collect her grant,” Khoza said. 

The MEC said the department shares the pain of old persons who suffer in the hands of those who are supposed to protect them.

“We will continue to give them our unwavering support, while ensuring removal of those found in unpleasant situations and place them at old age homes to ensure their welfare, healthcare and safety. 

The MEC emphasised that the department is a custodian for the protection of vulnerable groups, and will work closely with the police to ensure that any person who violates the rights of children, older persons and persons with disabilities, gets arrested.

“Indeed, one cannot pass judgement on the situation of the old person rescued from the Lindelani house, but nothing can ever justify leaving her in a locked house without anything to eat, while government pays her grant on a monthly basis,” Khoza said. – SAnews.gov.za

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