Since the beginning of lockdown, Geslina Langeni, 93, has been living by herself in a squalid flat in Sydenham. There is no glass in the windows and they are covered with cardboard or plastic to keep out the wind and rain. Previously, Geslina’s two daughters lived with her and took care of her with money from their state benefits. But tragically, one of the daughters died in February and the other, who has mental health problems, has been admitted to the nearby King George Hospital.
Now the old lady is all alone and has been unable to collect her SASSA grant for the past 4 months. She is completely reliant on the goodwill of neighbours, like Shireen Tifflin, to survive. Shireen, who has been feeding Geslina since February, has been trying in vain to get the elderly woman placed in a frail care facility.
Department of Social Development spokesperson, Mhlabunzima Memela, said social workers were aware of Geslina’s case but the process was delayed by the lockdown. “They made a temporary arrangement with the neighbour to take care of her while trying to fast track processes for her to be admitted to an old age home,” he said. “But homes were closed to outsiders because of Covid 19.”
Last Thursday, Tafta heard about the elderly woman’s plight and immediately agreed to find a home for her, as soon as she has been tested for Covid-19 and medically assessed. In the meantime, we are delivering Meals on Wheels to her flat to ensure that she eats. The neighbour was also provided with a food hamper to support her efforts to care for the old woman. SASSA management have been asked to speedily assist in ensuring that Geslina can access her grant.
We are thankful that we are able to provide a safety net for elders like Geslina, who might otherwise be left with no one to turn to. Thank you to our generous donors who contribute to programmes like Meals on Wheels, making them available to destitute elders in urgent need.
Please click the button above to help another elder like Geslina enjoy a plate of food today. R40 sponsors one meal. R200 covers a week’s worth of meals, and R800 ensures a vulnerable elder receives a meal every week day for a whole month! Thank you for being a good neighbour.
[With acknowledgement to Duncan Guy, Independent on Saturday, 23 May 2020]