THE Ministry of Social Development has expressed worry over the escalating brutal killings of elderly persons across the country.
The ministry’s Elderly Care Services director Retselisitsoe Tsuinyane recently told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that five killings were recorded in four districts this month.
Ms Tsuinyane said it was worrying that the killings were recorded soon after the commemoration of deaths happen week after the world commemorated the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is observed by the United Nations (UN). It was born out of the UN resolution 66/127. With a growing global population of elderly people, the abuse of the elderly is an increasingly serious problem that affects the health and human rights of the elderly.
Ms Tsuinyane said two elderly women were killed in Leribe this month by unknown assailants. Another elderly woman was reportedly strangled by unknown assailants while on her way to the clinic in Ribaneng, Mafeteng. Her body was found tied up in a valley.
She said in Mohale’s Hoek, a 74-year-old Thaba-T?oeu was beaten up and burnt to death in his house while 94-year-old Teyateyaneng man was allegedly killed by his grandson for not buying food.
Ms Tsuinyane said the grandson killed his grandfather after he arrived home and found he had not bought food for him to cook.
“The narration given is that after the boy killed his grandfather, the other grandson arrived and found his grandfather dead and out of rage, then killed the young boy before handing himself to the police,” Ms Tsuinyane said.
Ms Tsuinyane said although the facts about the other killings were still vague, it is worrying for the ministry to hear of heinous acts adding that it was appalling that some of the acts are perpetrated by those charged with protecting the elderly.
“These are the only cases that have been reported, there is a possibility that there could be others in other districts that were not reported.”
Ms Tsuinyane said some elderly people are prone to attacks whenever their communities know that they stay alone.
She said some of the ministry’s efforts to take the elderly to care centres have been hampered by their reluctance to leave their homes. He however, said the behaviours were understandable because some have an attachment with their property which they would be leaving unattended.
Ms Tsuinyane said it was critical to support the elderly and also convince them that moving them to care homes was best for their own safety.
She said the ministry was working on the Older Persons Protection Bill which although it was still in the initial stages.
She said according to the 2016 population census, there are 171 742 people who are above 60 years. She said the elderly have played a vital role in the fight against HIV and AIDS especially in the initial stages where most feared to associate with infected people.
“The elderly were the first people to start HIV and AIDS support groups and used to handle patients with their hands where everyone else refused and some even got infected while they helped. This is proof that they have sacrificed to help others but in return, they are maimed. Even the M700 they earn is spent on taking care of their grandchildren and it is sad that they are abused by the same people,” she said.
Ms Tsuinyane said it was crucial for the public to change its perception towards the elderly because some think that since they are old, they have lived long and can be killed.
“This attitude is for stupid and selfish people who think elderly persons are not worth living,” Ms Tsuinyane said.