Cape Town -

Twenty years since casting their first votes, the Western Cape’s elderly still have a spring in their step – but some face terrible abuse and violence from their own families.

Pensioners were honoured in a Freedom Day celebration at the Good Hope Centre yesterday. Buses brought them from as far afield as Grabouw and De Doorns for the ANC-sponsored event, organised by Ilitha Labantu, an NGO that helps domestic violence victims.

Provincial ANC head Marius Fransman

said: “The elders’ struggle was much harder than ours. They are the wealth of memory. It’s important for young people to sit at the feet of elders and listen to their stories.”

Ilitha Labantu director Mandisa Monakali said the celebration was to thank elderly people. “They have suffered most. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

Despite celebrating their freedom, elders were often confronted with violence. Many faced the pressure of having to look after their grandchildren because their children had succumbed to Aids. Abuse of elderly people was rife within their own families.

“Their grandchildren are gangsters. Their great grandchildren are stealing their pension money. They are blind, diabetic, paralysed – their voice is gone. We report the cases but they go nowhere. It’s beyond control.”

Monakali said Ilitha Labantu had to do the work of social development in the province, and help educate old people about writing their wills, otherwise “when they’re gone, their children kill each other over a house”.

Most of the elderly people cheered for the ANC, but a few rows erupted over which party offered the brightest future.

Farieda Isaacs, who lives in an old-age home in Hanover Park, said she wouldn’t be voting ANC this time. “It’s been 20 years of struggle. We want a better life for the 20 years still coming.”

Cape Argus

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