Keabetswe Shilakwe | 13 January 2017
Taking care of the elderly, though challenging, is a joy. We are given the honour to love the ones who have loved us. What do we do if someone has mistreated and abuses the elderly? How can we stay silent while such an injustice happens in our land?
Mmamojalefa Tshefane is an elderly woman who was discovered by police and a neighbour on New Year’s Eve. Upon walking into the house, they found Tshefane lying dead on the floor. The house was without food and she was wearing nothing but her underwear. Allegations have been made towards her daughter, whose name has not been published by the request of the family. She is accused of locking her mother up for weeks and spending the grant money even after her mother’s death.
There is also Bheki Maloka, 61, who was discovered to be in need of medical attention during a door-to-door campaign. He was taken to hospital where he later died.
These are two of the many cases around the country where the elderly have been abused and neglected. MEC of the Department of Social Development (DSD), Nandi Mayathula- Khoza, says these cases are nothing new, especially in Soweto, where the elderly in question had died.
“We ask ourselves what has happened to society. What has happened to family? What has happened to community? What has happened to Ubuntu?”
Ms. Mayathula-Khoza says there is a problem in certain areas where the community is usually aware of an elderly person and does nothing to help him or her. She says it is a problem because help is needed from community members to help take care of the elderly in the community as many can not take care of themselves. Other issues surround family members who take their grant cards and spend the pension money on things that aren’t directly or indirectly beneficial to the elderly person.
“It is socio-economic problems that we are encountering in our country, but it’s really no reason, to abuse an elderly person.”
Ms. Mayathula-Khoza says some people are unaware that the elderly people have rights that are stipulated in our constitution and the Older Person’s Act. The MEC says her department plans on going into the communities and registering all elderly people in order to play a more active role in making sure that all their basic needs are meant.
You too can play your part in caring for the elderly in your community by adopting an elderly person and checking up on them from time to time. Let’s prove to ourselves and future generations that the elderly matter.
“The phrase ‘Love one another’ is so wise. By loving one another, we invest in each other and in ourselves. Perhaps someday, when we need someone to care for us, it may not come from the person we expect, but from the person we least expect. It may be our sons or daughter-in-laws, our neighbours, friends, cousins, stepchildren, or stepparents whose love for us has assigned them to the honourable, yet dangerous position of caregiver.” – Peggi Speers