Lamontville - The government needs to stop people killing grannies who are accused of witchcraft when in reality they were “old and ugly”, and sometimes suffering from dementia.
That was one of the concerns raised by senior citizens who spoke to the Daily News at the official opening of the revamped Muthande Society for the Aged branch in Lamontville on Tuesday.
The centre was officially opened by Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi, who was accompanied on the election campaign trail by Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, ANC eThekwini Speaker Logie Naidoo and ANC Women’s League leaders.
Regulars at the centre said they expected the May 7 poll to be better than the first democratic elections, and that they were happy to vote next week.
However, Michael Mzolo, 73, said more needed to be done to protect the rights of the elderly. He said old people were commonly accused of witchcraft and were attacked or even killed. “If you don’t look good in your face, people think you are a witch,” he said.
Mzolo said many people were ignorant about dementia and, rather than associating it with memory loss in old age, mistook it for witchcraft.
“If they (grannies) have lost their memories, they would walk outdoors naked and people, especially young people, attack them because they think they are witches,” said Mzolo.
Annie Mngadi, 91, agreed.
“They say we are witches because we look old and ugly,” Mngadi said.
The government was doing a “good job, but not to my satisfaction”, said Mzolo.
“Maybe the government should increase its efforts as there is no research done on grannies who do not know their rights,” Mzolo said.
He said some old people had yet to receive their IDs.
“The easiest way to solve these problems would be to supervise ward councillors to make sure they are doing their job, because the government does not know what is happening on the ground,” said Mzolo.
Although Mngadi could hardly stand on her own, she said she would be at the polling station.
Grace Nzuza, 85, said she would be voting too. “It was bad in 1994. We voted, but there were a lot of conflicts back then, but it is still important to vote,” she added.
Thabo Ndlovu, 70, said he was expecting peaceful and successful elections this year.
The Muthande Society for the Aged is a non-profit organisation which consists of five branches – in Lamontville, Chesterville, Clermont, Tafelkop and Richmond Farm. It provides a service to 5 000 elderly citizens.
The society facilitates care for the elderly, transports them to and from hospitals, and runs programmes and fun activities for them.
The Lamontville centre was renovated to the tune of R7 million, donated by Afripak.
The Department of Social Development has budgeted R6.2m towards the running of the centres this year.