GBV activist supports the elderly through run



Published Jun 12, 2024


Durban — Charmain Shandu, a manager at one of the biggest finance companies in South Africa, is on a mission to help the elderly. Shandu does philanthropic work and is a vice-chairperson of the Association for the Aged (Tafta) council.

Recently, she raised R42 500 through an annual fund-raising run she hosts called #31kmsOn31stDec.

She said the Durban-based NPO was “committed to alleviating the distress of the elderly and other vulnerable groups – and to make dignity, growth and a meaningful life a realistic prospect for all elders”.

A year ago, Tafta established a free helpline, 0800 101 110, for the elderly to call if subjected to abuse.

Shandu said the toll-free number is attended by people who direct them to the police or social workers, depending on their case.

“To keep the line open, I felt the need to make this contribution, because Tafta does not have a wider reach to some places.”

She said she decided to contribute to the toll-free number because of the overwhelming response of victims who needed the number.

“People who were victims of abuse or witnesses of abuse called in from across the country. It became evident to me that the elderly needed a number to call when they have an emergency.”

She the elderly faced a lot of challenges the toll-free number helped address.

“You would think people would be kinder to the elderly because of their vulnerability but that is when they are targeted the most. Top of the list is the financial abuse they experience. In most cases, family members or close neighbours take advantage of the elderly, who live alone, and steal their pension money. Most of them take the only source of finances the elderly have to support their substance abuse.

“The other issue is sexual abuse. People take advantage of the elderly who live alone and do not have anyone to talk to. Some even attack them and call them witches. They know no one is going to believe them or want to get involved. Some get beaten up for not giving up their pension money to their abuser,” she said.

Shandu said there are also cases of verbal abuse or impatience with family members due to conditions, such as dementia, that make the elderly unable to be independent in terms of their basic daily routines.

“Some family members do not understand these conditions and shout at them and that is even mimicked by their grandchildren. They also see their grandparents being hit or shouted at for something as small as spilling water, so they feel the right to do so.”

Tafta CEO Femada Shamam said the contribution would go a long way.

“We are truly blessed that Shandu is supporting Tafta. The #31kmsOn31stDec also talks to the vision of people ageing actively. It will send out a positive message. We are blessed to have her as our ambassador. The money will help many elderly.”

WhatsApp your views on this story to 071 485 7995.

Daily News