Older Persons Amendment Bill: DHS & SALGA input; with Deputy Minister

Social Development

28 February 2024
Chairperson: Ms N Mvana (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary


SALGA Presentation (awaited document)

The Portfolio Committee on Social Development was briefed by the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) on their responses to issues raised in public hearings on the Older Persons Amendment Bill.

The Deputy Minister of Human Settlements outlined the collaboration between the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) and Department of Social Development (DSD) in addressing concerns related to property transfer and housing norms for older persons.

The DHS highlighted legislative measures and policy initiatives aimed at safeguarding older people's properties and improving housing accessibility, while also acknowledging challenges such as corruption and delayed title deed issuance. Members of the Committee raised questions regarding corruption allegations, housing allocation discrepancies, and safety measures for older persons, prompting detailed responses from DHS representatives.

Committee Members sought clarification on various issues, including accountability mechanisms for property transfers, the integration of safety features in housing projects, and the inclusion of older persons in decision-making processes. DHS officials provided insights into their efforts to address these concerns, emphasising collaboration with stakeholders and ongoing legislative reviews to enhance protections for older persons. The Committee commended the Department 's commitments and urged continued vigilance in addressing challenges faced by older persons.

SALGA highlighted existing policies and initiatives aimed at providing basic municipal services to economically disadvantaged households, including older persons. Cllr Kenalemang Phukuntsi outlined SALGA's support for the proposed amendments to the Bill and emphasised the importance of institutionalising issues of older persons in municipal planning and processes. Committee members raised concerns about land allocation for elderly facilities, and the effect of municipal billing practices on pensioners. Ms Nozibele Makanda, SALGA Portfolio Head, addressed these concerns, emphasising the need for collaboration between sectors and the importance of accommodating the preferences of elderly individuals in municipal planning.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed representatives of the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) and the SA Local Government Association, who were there to brief the Committee on their responses to the public hearings on the Older Persons Amendment Bill. She remarked on the importance of ensuring that all duties of the Committee were fulfilled in the time left to it.

Briefing: Department of Human Settlements 

In opening remarks, Ms Pamela Tshwete, Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, emphasised the importance of the Bill. She said the officials accompanying her would present on two key issues: the illegal transfer of properties belonging to older persons and proposed amendments to housing norms and standards.

Highlighting the longstanding relationship between the DHS and the Department of Social Development (DSD), Deputy Minister Tshwete said they had collaborated in workshops related to the Bill and the development of special housing regulatory policies covering older persons. She noted that the Bill coincided with ongoing engagements with stakeholders on the draft White Paper for Human Settlements, which included a focus on vulnerable groups such as the elderly. She underscored the importance of gaining insights from the Committee to strengthen the Department’s position on the Bill.

Dr Nana Mhlongo, Deputy Director-General: Research, Policy Strategy and Planning, made a presentation which addressed key issues raised during public consultations and provided insights into policy and legislative programmes aimed at resolving challenges affecting the elderly population.

Regarding the transfer of houses belonging to older persons, the Department outlined the legal process involved in property transfer and emphasised the importance of written agreements managed by conveyancers. It highlighted Section 10A of the Housing Act, which restricts the sale or alienation of government-subsidised property for a period of eight years, ensuring protection against fraudulent transfers. The Department suggested exploring similar legislative measures to further safeguard older people's properties.

Regarding the provision of houses with ramps, inside toilets, and bathrooms for older persons, the Department acknowledged the universal design principle and outlined current norms and standards for housing development. It noted ongoing consideration of incorporating additional features such as ramps and burglar proofing, particularly for disabled persons, as part of the review of the White Paper on Human Settlements.

Collaboration between the DHS and DSD was underscored, with the Amendment Bill mandating an inter-departmental structure for effective implementation. Both departments collaborated on a special housing needs policy and implementation guidelines, with the DHS responsible for infrastructure and the DSD for care. The policy defined special housing needs beneficiaries and outlined funding for project preparation, land acquisition, development and construction.

The presentation concluded with a recommendation that the Portfolio Committee on Social Development should note the DHS’s response to public consultation questions on the Older Persons Amendment Bill and the collaborative efforts between Department s to effectively address the housing needs of older persons.

Mr Paul Masemola, acting Chief Director: Legal Services, added that the reference to the preemptive provisions of Section 10A of the Housing Act in the presentation was because the DHS was looking at the best possible options to protect the housing rights of older persons.

In closing remarks, the Deputy Minister highlighted the Department's decision to prioritise the safety of people with disabilities by installing burglar-proofing in their homes, recognising their vulnerability to crime. She expressed initial uncertainty about whether the Older Persons Bill would cover people with disabilities. She mentioned the Minister's involvement in discussions about the White Paper, indicating that many issues pertinent to the Bill were covered therein.

The Deputy Minister noted that the presentation marked the final day for public comments as all submissions were to be made before 28 February.

See attached for full presentation


Ms P Marais (EFF) raised concerns about the corruption of officials within the DHS, particularly regarding the illegal sale of properties belonging to older persons. She recounted instances where older persons' houses were sold without their knowledge, often involving Department employees. She emphasised the vulnerability of older persons in such situations and urged the Department to address internal corruption.

Ms J Manganye (ANC) sought clarity on the issue of houses allocated to older persons being built in different wards, causing confusion and displacement for the beneficiaries. She expressed concern about a lack of accountability and loopholes in the system, emphasising the need for stronger legislation to prevent such occurrences.

Ms B Masango (DA) sought clarification on several points, including the meaning of "unknown" in the national needs register, as highlighted in the presentation.

Ms Masongo asked about the recourse available to older persons whose houses had been sold, the inclusion of accessibility features like ramps in housing projects, and the integration of safety measures for older persons into the Department's plans.

She also inquired about the authentication of identities for housing allocations and the presence of monitoring systems to ensure the process benefited older persons. Finally, she asked about the Department 's timeframes for addressing gaps in legislative frameworks.

Ms L Arries (EFF) raised concerns about the safety of older persons living in areas with high crime rates and emphasised the need for the Department to prioritise safe housing locations for older persons.

She asked whether the Department planned to allocate a specific budget for housing for the elderly and expressed a desire for retirement villages to be made accessible to less privileged older persons.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) enquired about the Department 's efforts to investigate cases of houses being transferred to grandchildren and children without the knowledge of the elderly owners. She emphasised the need for clear action and accountability in addressing such instances of property transfer.

Additionally, she asked about the possibility of incorporating alarm systems into older persons' houses for added security and the timeline for implementing accessibility features like ramps.

The Chairperson asked whether the Department planned to include alarm systems in older persons' houses to enhance security.

She also questioned the timeline for implementing ramps in houses with stairs and expressed concern about the illegal transfer of houses without the knowledge of the elderly owners.

She asked about the Department 's progress in issuing title deeds to older persons and requested information on the budget allocation and data management for housing projects targeting the elderly.


Deputy Minister Tshwete addressed the concerns of Ms Marais about corruption within the Department . She acknowledged the seriousness of the allegations and emphasised the Department's commitment to combating corruption. She urged members to provide names of officials in the Department involved in fraudulent activities so that appropriate action could be taken.

Regarding the allocation of houses to elderly persons, she highlighted that the Minister of Human Settlements had prioritised elderly beneficiaries in housing projects. While no specific budget was earmarked for elderly housing, the Department prioritised elderly applicants using available funding.

Regarding title deeds, Deputy Minister Tshwete admitted that the Department had been slow in issuing them but assured the Committee that efforts were being made to expedite the process. She mentioned that a resolution was made to issue title deeds every Friday and that the Department was working closely with municipalities to streamline the process, despite various challenges. 

Mr Masemola addressed various concerns raised by the members. Regarding establishing special areas for older persons, he expressed reservations about potential security risks, suggesting instead the integration of older persons within mixed-age communities. However, he emphasised the Department 's commitment to prioritising stand-alone houses for older persons to address accessibility challenges.

He also highlighted the importance of houses having indoor bathroom facilities for safety reasons, particularly at night, to minimise the risk of criminal activities targeting older persons using outdoor bathrooms.

Regarding the recourse for older persons who had lost their properties, Mr Masemola explained that while the Department might not intervene unless informed of fraudulent activities, it had mechanisms in place, such as an anti-corruption unit, to address such cases.

Regarding legislative changes, Mr Masemola said the Department was currently gathering feedback through the White Paper process to inform future legislation. He emphasised the importance of involving older persons in decision-making processes, noting that the proposed Bill included provisions to ensure their participation and extended its scope to include non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and non-profit organisations (NPOs).

Mr Masemola reiterated the Department 's commitment to addressing the concerns raised and emphasised the importance of ensuring the inclusion and protection of older persons in policy-making and implementation processes.

Ms Nonhlanhla Buthelezi, Acting DGG: Human Settlement Delivery Frameworks, DHS, addressed two specific areas raised by the Committee members. Firstly, regarding older persons deemed to be mentally challenged, she highlighted the need for collaboration with the DSD to develop appropriate responses, considering the varying levels of mental illness among this demographic. She emphasised the importance of assessing medical documentation provided by district surgeons during the allocation process.

Secondly, Ms Buthelezi provided clarification on the classification of information in the Department 's systems, particularly concerning gender. She explained that while gender information was comprehensively captured for younger beneficiaries due to factors such as those identifying as transgender, such information was not captured at all for older generations.

Deputy Minister Tshwete further provided further insights into several other issues raised by the Committee. She clarified that many buildings in towns, including those used for housing, belonged to various departments or municipalities, not solely to the DHD.

Deputy Minister Tshwete emphasised that elderly individuals had the autonomy to choose where they wanted to live, and cultural considerations often influenced their decisions, such as the desire to stay with family members. She stressed that the Department prioritised listening to the preferences of elderly individuals and aimed to protect their rights accordingly.

Regarding the question of monitoring houses to ensure the intended elderly beneficiaries occupied them, Deputy Minister Tshwete explained that while the Department did not conduct regular checks on all elderly residents across South Africa, it addressed specific cases brought to its attention. However, she highlighted the importance of the proposed Bill, which would provide mechanisms to address illegal transfers of houses, thereby assisting in safeguarding the housing rights of elderly individuals.

Briefing: South African Local Government Association

The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) provided a comprehensive response to public inputs on the Older Persons Amendment Bill in a briefing presented by Cllr Kenalemang Phukuntsi, Executive Mayor, Tswelopele Municipality.

Addressing concerns raised about the ability of older persons to pay municipal bills, Cllr Phukuntsi outlined existing policies and mechanisms aimed at providing basic municipal services to economically disadvantaged households. These included the Free Basic Services Policy, guidelines for indigency policies, and rebates under the Municipal Property Rates Act. However, she acknowledged challenges, particularly concerning the adequacy of free basic services and the need for improved targeting mechanisms for indigency qualification.

Regarding a call for dedicated queues and services for older persons, Cllr Phukuntsi said SALGA supported the initiative to accommodate elderly individuals and persons with disabilities. However, the implementation would depend on available resources and infrastructure within municipalities. SALGA was committed to advising and supporting municipalities in mainstreaming the needs of older persons.

Concerns about municipal workers' training to effectively interact with older persons prompted SALGA to pledge collaboration with relevant departments, such as the DSD, to enhance sensitivity and communication at the local level.

Cllr Phukuntsi addressed issues faced by NPOs operating old age service centres, including challenges in obtaining lease agreements from municipalities. SALGA had proposed conducting audits of these facilities and engaging relevant parties to find mutually beneficial solutions.

Challenges in obtaining land from local municipalities for old age service centres were addressed within the context of spatial development frameworks and annual consultations for land allocation. Cllr Phukuntsi emphasised the importance of mainstreaming the needs of older persons in municipal planning processes.

In response to public recommendations, SALGA pledged to enhance community awareness of indigent policies, improve training for municipal workers dealing with older persons, and advocate for sign language interpreters at municipal offices.

Cllr Phukuntsi said that SALGA supported proposed amendments to the Bill, including introducing an inter-departmental structure to integrate and coordinate the effective implementation of the Act. The association underscored the importance of institutionalising issues of older persons in municipal planning and processes, advocating for a role-based approach where municipalities acted as doers, enablers, coordinators, and connectors in addressing the needs of older persons.

See attached for full submission


Ms Arries raised concerns about allocation of land specifically for elderly centres in each ward, emphasising that SALGA and municipalities should prioritise this in spatial development planning. She also highlighted issues with municipal arrears and the lack of transparency in billing practices, urging SALGA to address these matters urgently.

Additionally, Ms Arries questioned SALGA about the exclusion of pensioners from equitable shares based on their government pensions, expressing concern over the potential deprivation of pensioners' rights.

Ms Marais echoed concerns about municipal billing practices, particularly regarding electricity costs and debt collection methods targeting elderly individuals. She emphasised the financial strain on pensioners and advocated for reduced rates and taxes for the elderly.

Ms Marais also stressed the importance of land allocation for elderly facilities and the need for increased safety measures for the elderly, citing instances of abuse by family members. She commended SALGA for recognising the crisis facing the elderly and urged action to address many other pressing issues.


Ms Nozibele Makanda, SALGA Portfolio Head: Health, Community Services and Inclusivity, thanked Members for the questions raised and acknowledged their alignment with critical points brought up during public hearings.

Regarding the allocation of resources like land and facilities for the elderly, Ms Makanda explained that municipalities had spatial development frameworks that indicated land ownership and plans for land use. While municipalities might own some facilities such as halls and libraries, the responsibility for providing facilities for the elderly often falls on the DSD. Collaboration between sectors was essential to address the needs of the elderly population effectively.

Regarding free basic services, Ms Makanda acknowledged that the national policy might not adequately meet the needs of households with larger electricity usage. Some municipalities had exceeded the national policy's guidelines, but revenue collection remained challenging due to job losses and an ageing population in certain areas. Efforts were underway to standardise policies and develop digital tools to assist municipalities in identifying indigent households more efficiently.

Ms Makanda also addressed concerns about debt collection practices, noting that municipalities must follow regulations outlined in the Municipal Finance Management Act. Additionally, she emphasised the importance of collaboration between municipalities and other sectors to address challenges faced by the elderly, such as the shortage of old-age homes.

While recognising the importance of accommodating the elderly in municipal planning, Ms Makanda highlighted cultural factors that might influence the preferences of elderly individuals to remain in their own homes rather than relocate to old age centres. She assured the Committee that SALGA would escalate the issues raised to the Council of Mayors for further consideration and action.

The meeting was adjourned.

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: