Honouring heritage and public service month

The elderly attended a workshop in Retreat.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJCD) and partners hosted Rights of Older Persons Workshop, at St Mary’s Catholic Hall, Retreat Road, Retreat, on Wednesday September 21.

One hundred older persons attended the event from old age homes and senior clubs in Retreat, Grassy Park, Steenberg and Lavender Hill.

These organisations included New World Foundation, Lotus River Old Age Home, Manoline Old Age Home, St Mark’s Seniors’ Club, Lotus River Seniors’ Club, Bethany Assemblies Seniors and the community of Cafda and Retreat.

The exhibitors at the event were Social Development, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), the City of Cape Town sports and recreation department, Action on Abuse SA, Age in Action, Legal Aid and the Master’s Office.

Advocate Hishaam Mohamed, regional head of DOJCD, said: “As part of the heritage and public service month celebrations we are focusing on the rights of our older persons and empowering you on your rights as found in the Bill of Rights and the Older Persons Act. It is with this background that we reaffirm our stance against abuse of the older person in our communities and protect them as our living heritage.”

The purpose of the public education workshop was to create awareness on the Older Person’s Act in conjunction with the judiciary, Master’s Services and the Department of Social Development.

Mr Mohamed said: “The Older Persons Act came into operation on April 1 2010 with the aim to deal effectively with the plight of the older persons in our communities.

“We still hear of cases where older persons are abused, not only by care-givers but also by their immediate families. Why do we read about senior citizens being neglected, going hungry or becoming victims of crime and vio- lence.

“We cannot be ignorant to the fact that older person abuse is happening and older persons become victims who suffer in silence due to a lack of knowledge of their rights.”

He said the DOJCD is one of the departments responsible for the implementation of the Older Persons Act, 2006.

“The Older Persons Act stands as one of the key interventions by Parliament to stop abuse of older persons in the country.

“Section 29 of the act requires a magistrate’s court to order an inquiry into the abuse of an older person, while Section 30 criminalises the abuse of an older person. I want to tell you today if anybody causes harm to you, causes distress to you in any way, if you come to the magistrates they will ensure that you are protected.

“We have also in terms of the new law created a register which is kept up by the Department of Social Development. And this register contains the names of all those who have been convicted of older persons offences. We will use this to ensure that they don’t come near you.

“Let us use this month to move towards that vision of national unity and cultural harmony and join us in celebrating our living treasures, you our older persons.”