While the grant for elderly people has increased to R1 600 for people over the age of 60 and to R1 620 for those over 75, some pensioners still believe that this is not enough. Picture: Timothy Bernard
Johannesburg - Two pensioners, who rely mainly on the pension fund for survival, said the increase Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced was shocking and showed that the government didn’t take elderly people seriously.

During his 2017/8 Budget speech on Wednesday, Gordhan said the old-age grant would increase by R90 to R1600 for pensioners over the age of 60, and to R1620 for those over 75.

Betty John, 61, and her husband Soen, 70, will have a combined increase of R180 in their monthly income.

They both depend on the grant to get by every month.

The couple said that when times got tough, they would reluctantly ask their children for help.

The combined R3200 wouldn’t be enough for them to survive.

“We barely make it through the month. We have to make sure that we spend every cent with caution otherwise we will be in big trouble,” said John.

The pensioners said R90 would make no difference in their daily struggle.

“It’s so shocking that only R90 has been allocated for the fund,” Soen said.

“We do understand that the government is tight on funds, but the elderly need to be looked after in this country. Yes, we may be old, but we deserve a good quality of life as well.”

The couple said they didn’t expect to live a luxurious lifestyle but trying to take care of their basic necessities was a problem.

“We make sure that we have our rent sorted. If we didn’t, we are certain we would be out on the street. It’s a good thing we have children because they help when need be. They have families though, so it becomes very difficult for them to help all the time,” said Soen.

John said they spent about R1500 on food and the remainder on what other basic items they could afford.

Their biggest challenge was trying to stay in good health.

“We must make sure we are healthy and don’t get sick,” said John. “This isn’t easy though. We’re old and when you get old, you have health complications. If it isn’t your teeth, it’s your eyes or a general check-up. Our public healthcare system is also not in favour of us and doesn’t look after us.”

The Star