The social development Member of the Executive Council, Albert Fritz has pledged R198 million to help fight against elderly abuse in the Western Cape Province.
Concerned by what he described as unethical behaviors against elderly people in the province, Fritz visited more than 300 elderly residents at a Christmas Party in Mitchells Plain on Sunday ahead of the festive season earlier in the day.
There, the MEC said the elderly are being mal-handled because they are seen as weak and unable to protect themselves.
He condemned the abuse and neglect of elderly citizens, especially by criminals as well as being financially exploited by relatives
“The elderly are seen as soft-targets, and are targeted by crooks and sadly even family members, because they know you can’t physically fight back,” Albert Fritz said
“Nobody should spend this special time of the year alone [and] as we head into the festive season, I encourage families with older persons in residential facilities to visit more often, or even take them in for the holiday period,” Fritz added.
Fritz’s visit was part of the department’s oversight visits campaign, aimed at raising awareness around neglect and abuse of the elderly around the festive season.
He said the R198 million pledge would help assist the elderly who reported any form of abuse. The department already funded 450 NGOs who specialized in assisting older persons, he said.
Albert Fritz also cautioned the elderly to be vigilant when accessing their pension and social grants, saying any abuse should be reported to the department.
As the SA population continues to grow, the number of the elderly remains on the high side with many of them facing newer societal problems.
Joe Maila, spokesman for the National Department of Health at a time said the SA government does care for its elderly population, but that the department has to perform triage when it comes to public health needs.
“We are not discriminating against them [the elderly]; despite that we don’t have necessarily a lot of doctors and what-not, but it’s just that we have taken the issue of, for instance, the issue of HIV and AIDS, and, you see, we take it very seriously, that all the time we talk about it”.
Therefore, she said, the people that are more vulnerable, the people who are more in trouble about it, are young people and women. “It does not mean that we do not take care of the elderly. That is not true at all”.