Seniors’ water woes

Dee Reiners and Sophia Majieda are disappointed that their vegetable garden has gone dry.

The City of Cape Town says tankers will be used to deliver water to vulnerable groups, such as old age homes and care facilities, if the supply is switched off on Day Zero, expected to be on Monday April 16.

The elderly and disabled have been worried about how they would collect water from the designated points.

Most of them don’t have transport to go to the points and even if they did, they may not have the strength or ability to carry water.

Some people also don’t have any family members or friends to help.

Concerned activist Ursula Schenker, chairperson for the Associated Seniors Club, in Plumstead, alerted Southern Mail about two old age homes, Parkhaven, in Wynberg, and Mandolin Place, in Steenberg, where residents were worried about what was going to happen.

Ms Schenker said with all the news about the present water crisis the elderly are “severely traumatised”.

“From facilities like Mandolin Place and Parkhaven the residents question if the water will be delivered to their respective facilities as many are frail and incapacitated and are unable to carry a 50-litre bottle.”

Residents will each be given 25-litres of water a day at collection points (“’Doomsday’ Zero”, Southern Mail, January 24).

Mayor Patricia de Lille said residents seem to be sceptical about Day Zero or think the City’s seven augmentation projects – set to produce around 200 million litres water a day – will be enough.

The level 6B restrictions, which start tomorrow, Thursday February 1, limit residents to 50 litres a person a day instead of the current 87 litres.

On Monday, January 29, the City of Cape Town established a Disaster Operations Centre (DOC) from where they will execute their Water Disaster Plan, which will take effect in the event of Day Zero.

The advanced Day Zero preparation includes 200 sites being assessed as water collection points.

Southern Mail spoke to Parkhaven’s matron Tina Schultz Peters and the residents who were worried about how they will cope if no one was there to help them get their “much needed” water.

Ms Peters said seniors would struggle as hygiene was an integral part of their lives. “One woman had a tummy bug and we had to get her into a bath even though we are not allowed to bath. Some of the elderly wet themselves occasionally, so we need to wash them all the time”

There is already not enough help to fulfil the daily needs of the elderly and Ms Peters said they do not have money for a big container to store water. “So far, no one volunteered to get water for us. We would be grateful and encourage the community to volunteer to get us water.”

There are 27 residents at Parkhaven and a few are able to help themselves “while others need a bit of help,” said Ms Peters.

While water is important to keep yourself clean, drinking water is fundamental.

Ms Peters said: One of our residents is a diabetic and she needs to drink more that two litres a day. Her water limit won’t last.”

At Mandorin Place, the elderly are also complaining about how they won’t be able to potter in their garden – a therapeutic way of coping with daily stresses and they were wondering who will step in to provide them with water.

Vivian Miller, the caretaker, said: “We used to have a green garden”, but with water restrictions working in the garden has decreased.

A lot of water is needed to maintain a garden therefore Ms Miller also urged people to assist with fetching water for the elderly.

Edna Petersen, 81, said: “My friend used to bring me water from Newlands (spring) but now that everyone is queueing for water, it is difficult for him to do so on a regular basis.”

She said she needs help because she cannot move around too much. “I recently had an operation and I can hardly walk.”

While Dee Reiners, 76, and Sophia Majied, 88, love to grow vegetables, they said their hands are tied. “We need a man with a bakkie to bring us water and to deliver us a container to store the water,” said Ms Reiners.

The duo used to admire their harvest of herbs and plants but everything has dried up. “Only the bay leaves survived the drought.”

Hilda Parsens-Abrahams, 66, said she cannot walk long distances because she has osteoarthritisin almost all her joints, including her hips, knees, spine and shoulders.

She lives with her husband Michael, 72, who had two massive heart attacks, which left him with an unstable leg.

She said her daughter lives in Lavender Hill and the rest of her family are from Belhar but they are not able to help collect water.

Although Ms Abrahams said they do re-use water, such as by using the washing water in the garden and to flush the toilets, they still need more water.

Ardent gardener Dorothy Daniels said it was her way of relaxing. “Now my Christmas flowers are looking all dried up.”

While many are concerned about the drought, Elaine Jacobs, 78, is positive. “I have a feeling our taps won’t get dry and we will have water.”

Ward 68 councillor Marita Petersen said she had a meeting with the seniors at Mandolin Place on Monday January 22 to speak about the water issue. She said the seniors were “quite conscientious” about saving water.

The City has two email addresses that organisations who want to help vulnerable residents may contact:

BLOB Organisations able to assist with delivering water to the vulnerable during a day zero scenario can email

BLOB Organisations able to assist with donations of containers or water can email