Sedibeng residents rally behind Older Persons Amendment Bill

The Sedibeng District Municipality’s residents showed resounding support for the Older Persons Amendment Bill during public hearings held by the Portfolio Committee on Social Development in Meyerton yesterday.

Residents who attended the hearings overwhelmingly expressed their hope that the proposed amendments to the legislation would enhance the welfare and protection of elderly individuals across the country.

Among the recommendations presented to the committee was the need to regulate the cost of living in old age homes. Concerns were raised about the high costs associated with living in these facilities. Some old age homes were reported to make significant deductions from the old age grants, leaving residents with inadequate funds for their daily needs.

A particular point of contention was a section in the draft Bill concerning means testing. This provision could disqualify older individuals from receiving government social grants if their spouse was a former civil servant receiving a civil pension. Many viewed this as discrimination against married couples and called for its revision or removal to ensure that every elderly person has access to a social grant, regardless of their spouse’s financial status.

Committee Chairperson Ms. Nonkosi Mvana acknowledged the concerns and emphasized the necessity for further engagement between the government and stakeholders to address the cost of living in old age homes.

Additionally, various service delivery issues unrelated to the Bill were raised during the hearings, including housing challenges, title deed disputes, and poor network connectivity in the district. The committee pledged to refer these concerns to the relevant government departments for follow-up and resolution.

The Portfolio Committee on Social Development is conducting a nationwide public consultation process to gather citizens’ input on the Older Persons Amendment Bill. The Bill’s objectives include strengthening the protection and prevention of elder abuse, eliminating harmful traditional practices, recognizing the role of older individuals in passing down intergenerational knowledge and wisdom, and providing for the temporary safe care of older persons without the need for a court order.

The committee continues its public hearings today in the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality’s council chambers.

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