Paarl, Cape Winelands District – The Portfolio Committee on Social Development, led by Acting Chairperson Mr. Dikgang Stock, conducted a vital public hearing in Paarl Town Hall yesterday to gather feedback on the Older Persons Amendment Bill from the elderly residents of the Cape Winelands District Municipality.
According to Parliament of South Africa, the meeting aimed to incorporate the views of senior citizens into the proposed amendments to the Older Persons Act.
During the session, Mr. Stock emphasized that the primary objective of the bill is to address social ills faced by the elderly and enhance their protection, safety, and health care, whether at home or in care centers. The proposed amendments to the Older Persons Act of 2006 include strengthening the prevention of abuse, eliminating harmful practices like witchcraft accusations, and recognizing the role of older persons in imparting inter-generational knowledge. Significantly, the Bill also proposes provisions for the removal of older persons to temporary safe care without requiring a court order.
Participants raised concerns about the lack of accessibility to critical services for older persons in Mbekweni Township, pointing out the distance of available services in Paarl. They also highlighted the high costs of residential care facilities in the district and the absence of affordable options.
One key issue identified was the lack of a clear definition of statutory abuse in the Bill. The elderly attendees cited instances like the delay in SASSA payments, which, despite being a significant transgression, lacks consequence management in the current draft of the Bill.
Further, a representative from Lingelihle Old Age Home in Ashton suggested that the Bill should detail criteria for membership in governance structures of older persons forums. This proposal stemmed from observations that abuse of the elderly often originates not from caregivers but from the boards governing these institutions.
The committee continues its public hearings on the Bill today in Mossel Bay, at the Mossel Bay Town Hall in the Garden Route District Municipality, from 10:00 to 14:00. These hearings are a critical step in ensuring that the legislation addresses the real needs and concerns of the older population in the Cape Winelands District and beyond.