Minister Fernandez Observes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day | Western Cape Government


Minister Fernandez Observes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

15 June 2020

In observing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Western Cape Minister of Social Development Sharna Fernandez calls on the whole of society to protect the rights and dignity of older persons, particularly in the context of Covid 19.

There are about 600 000 people over the age of 60 in the Western Cape. While 9 000 people are cared for in DSD-funded frail care facilities, and thousands more live in Independent and Assisted Living facilities, most older persons live within communities and with families. This means that some older persons may be living with the perpetrators of elder abuse. The types of abuse experienced by older persons include physical, psychological, financial and sexual abuse.

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 15 June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. According to the World Health Organisation’s global estimate, 1 in 6 people older than 60 suffer abuse.

“The spread of Covid 19 in South Africa and the subsequent lockdown, has meant that older persons are particularly vulnerable to abuse as many may be isolated from their extended families and usual community-based support structures. Furthermore, all visits to old age facilities have been prohibited during levels 5, 4, and 3 of the lockdown. While physical contact places older persons at high risk for infection, I urge all families, neighbours, and other community groups to regularly check in with older persons telephonically to ensure that they are safe and being cared for,” says Minister Fernandez.

The Department of Social Development has remained open throughout the lockdown period to provide statutory services, including to older persons at high risk of abuse.

The Older Person’s Act obliges anyone who suspects that an older person has been abused to report the matter. This can be done either at the closest DSD local office, or to the police.

Media Enquiries: 

Esther Lewis

Head of Communications