South Africa: Caring for the Elderly During Lockdown Was 'Fruitless and Wasteful' Expenditure

A resident of Mamelodi during the Covid-19 lockdown (file photo).

Melumzi Hubert Sauka said Imbumba firmly believed that if it did not continue with its assistance to the elderly, those in its care would have died.

First published in Daily Maverick 168.

The Eastern Cape Department of Social Development has dug in its heels over paying a R70 food subsidy to organisations caring for the elderly for the months that the country was in lockdown, saying that they can find no proof of food being given to the elderly beneficiaries.

In October 2020, the Makhanda High Court ordered the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development to honour service-level agreements with 25 caregiver organisations looking after the elderly. Several organisations province-wide are, however, also waiting for their service centre subsidies to be paid.

Withdrawal of subsidies

The Department of Social Development withdrew subsidies payable to the organisations earlier this year, saying they cannot receive funding for service centres, where the elderly were looked after and fed for the period that the country was in lockdown, as the elderly were not supposed to leave their homes.

The department's decision, as conveyed to the court by the head of the department, Ntombi Baart, who has since been placed on precautionary suspension,...

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