JOHANNESBURG, June 5 — Social abuse, lack of access to health-care and the impact of HIV/Aids have been highlighted as some of the main issues affecting pensioners on a daily basis in South Africa.
This is according to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report released in Johannesburg on Thursday. The SAHRC launched an investigation in 2012, to look into issues affecting older persons. Other challenges include elderly people struggling to find accommodation at old age homes, due to limited space.
Pensioners are battling with the lack of access to social security, becoming primary caregivers due to the impact of HIV and Aids, as well as abuse by the people they live with. There are eight state-owned old age homes and 410 registered non-profit organisations that look after the elderly in the country.
CEO of the Human Rights Commission, Lindiwe Khumalo, says many of these facilities are often over-crowded and poorly maintained.
“The capacity of these centres to deliver care to older persons is wanting. It is wanting at a number of levels,” says Khumalo. She says limited space, equipment and skilled labour are just some of those challenges.
The NGO Section 11, says there are many pensioners who do not have identity documents. Its spokesperson, Syd Eckley, says this means they cannot have access to social grants.
Khumalo says in most cases, pensioners are forced to provide for their families from their monthly grants, especially in black communities.
“Older person often become subjects of abuse by family members who often take away the little money that the elderly gets from the state. The second issue is the scourge of HIV/Aids the burden that it has placed on communities and households. Older people have increasingly becoming the primary care-givers of the younger members of the family,” says Khumalo.
The HRC’s Advocate Mohamed Ameermia has called on government to clamp down on micro-lenders who target pensioners.
“The micro lending is becoming a scourge in this section, so the vulnerable are becoming even more vulnerable,” says Ameermia.