THE Ministry of Social Development has launched a sensitisation campaign to stem increasing cases of abuse and witchcraft related killings of elderly people around the country.
Launched in Ha-Raliemere, Mafeteng on Wednesday, the campaign is meant to stem the spiralling killings of elderly people, especially women.
Last month, 82-year old Mapaki Moleme was fatally assaulted by unknown assailants in Mafeteng district. She is expected to be laid to rest today.
Ms Moleme was the 10th elderly person to be killed recently in the area over allegations of witchcraft. Another granny was burned to death in Mohale’s Hoek after also being accused of witchcraft.
The ministry’s Elderly Care Services Director, Retselisitsoe Tsuinyane, told the Sunday Express they decided to launch the campaign in Ha-Raliemere in light of the recent killing.
She said the campaign would sensitise people on the physical and mental changes that occur when people get old, which may be misconstrued as being a witch.
“We want to ensure that people understand the importance of elderly people in society and killing them should not be tolerated,” Ms Tsuinyane said.
“Older people need to feel safe in our communities and people need to understand the aging process and the changes that come with it.
“Otherwise, they will always live in fear and take ageing as a curse.”
She said illnesses associated with old age such as dementia were misconstrued as being a witch.
“People with dementia often talk by themselves or even forget to do some essential things, and that’s when some people start to accuse them of witchcraft.”
Some of the elderly people in Ha-Raliemere, Ms Tsuinyane said, felt they had no other option but to relocate because of the threats to their safety.
“However, they face many challenges related to building new homes and being accepted in the host communities,” she said.
“So we have to make sure that they feel loved and ensure that they are protected at all times.”
For his part, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Temeki Tšolo said only directionless people would commit the cowardly acts of abusing or killing the elderly.
“We are very much concerned with these killings that seem to have become a trend and therefore we need to find means to bring them to a stop,” he said.