25 November 2012

South Africa: Cape Centenarians Get Distress Relief Parcels

Paarl — A man born before Nelson Mandela drew lots of applause in the Boland town of Mbekweni on Friday when he received a food parcel from Deputy Social Development Minister Bongi Maria Ntuli.

Born in the Transkei town of Elliot in 1910, Mseleku Xhontana, who turned 102 on 20 June, was one of 1500 people who had been selected to receive what the Deputy Minister called "distress relief" parcels. He lives with his three children in the township.

Smiling broadly, he said: "I'm very happy. I didn't expect this."

Ntuli said she felt privileged to hold the hand of a person that was over a hundred years old.

Another centenarian, 106-year-old Mbhonxi Jack was to receive his parcel during a home visit.

Ntuli visited the area as part of Social Development's monthly community dialogue campaign. She promised that she would return for a follow-up visit.

A profile of the Paarl area done by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) found that 44 430 social grants were paid to recipients, including children. Of these, 25 503 were child support grants, 10 627 were old age grants and 6 873 were disability grants.

In Mbekweni, an amount of R8 million was paid out in social grants every month.

Ntuli implored residents to find ways to make the money they received from social grants to rotate among the community.

She thanked residents from the Paarl area who had taken part in the dialogue that preceded Friday's meeting.

"This exercise is part of a social compact. It's not just about listening to you, but to ensure that what you say in connection with the development of people can happen. We don't want a top-down approach. We want a bottom-up approach. You people must decide where, when and how so that you can take ownership of projects."

The social problems reported in Mbekweni included incidents of rape, substance abuse - of which residents said the drug Tik or methamphetamine was wreaking havoc among the youth, teenage pregnancies, sexual offences, HIV and Aids, Tuberculosis, child abuse and unemployment.

Residents also complained about older men and women, whom they referred to as sugar daddies and sugar mommies, who were keeping youngsters old enough to be their children as lovers.

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