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SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
08 March 2006
OLDER PERSONS BILL: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS
Documents handed out:
Older Persons Bill [B68B-2003]: Proposed amendments as of 8 March
The Department of Social Development briefed the Committee on the latest version of the proposed amendments to the Older Persons Bill. The discussion centred on Clauses 24 and 26. A concern was raised around the notion of alleged abusers possibly being exempt from removal from an institution if they were the owner of that property. Also commented on was the delay that would ensue before an older person's protection could be ensured while the social worker compiled a report and the police official had to be satisfied that the removal of the perpetrator was needed.
Ms Nomathemba Kela, Chief Director: Welfare Services Transformation, noted that they would update the Committee on the latest proposed amendments and she invited members to express concerns and raise comments. Mr P Du Preez, the legal drafter, accompanied by Mr Gideon Hoon, the State Law Advisor, went through the amendments.
Discussion arose around Clause 26. Ms S Rajbally (MF) questioned the rights of the owner of a home where an older person resided if the perpetrator happened to be the owner of the property. If the perpetrator was ordered "to leave the home" due to a case of abuse, did the perpetrator have the right to refuse removal because he/she owned the property?
Adv M Masutha (ANC) assured her that there was no such a thing as an absolute right and no one would be exempted from removal. The right to equality and the right to property in the Constitution could be limited as long as the limitation provision was taken into consideration. That intervention could be applicable to ensure that the older person was protected. It was imperative that the magistrate consider the interests of the older person where the older person had been abused by the owner of the institution.
Ms Gumede (ANC) raised her concern around the implications of Clause 26(1) where a police official, to whom a report contemplated in Section 24(4)(b) had been made, "is satisfied that it will be in the best interests of the older person if the alleged offender is removed from the home or place where the older person resides". Her concern was for the safety of the older person in the event of the police officer not being satisfied with the implication of the removal of the offender from the residence.
Mr Du Preez requested the Committee to look at Clauses 26 and 24 jointly in order to understand the implications of these provisions better.
Ms Gumede expressed great concern around the procedure for the removal of the perpetrator who abused an older person. She said that it was impractical to assume that the social worker would be available within 24 hours to follow up and investigate the case of abuse. Therefore was no legislation that expected the services of the social worker to be immediately available. Therefore it could be possible to compromise the safety of the older person because there was no social worker available.
Ms Gumede proposed that the role of the removal of the perpetrator and follow up of the case be assumed by the police official immediately. The social worker could then work with the police official on the following day if a case of abuse occurred at night.
Ms I Mars (IFP) wanted to know who was responsible for the admission of older persons in old age homes.
Ms Kela responded that there was a multidisciplinary panel that was set up by the Director General to look at the needs and requirements of older persons.
Mr M Waters asked if admission was restricted to older persons belonging to a particular religious group or not. He also asked if state institutions had to register as well.
The Department responded that religion was not taken into consideration when placing older persons into institutions.
Ms Rajbally expressed her concern around care provided by private families. She feared that if private families were exempt, older persons would not be protected because there were reports of cases of abuse by family carers. She proposed that there be a clause that bound the family, stating clearly how the older person should be taken care of financially and otherwise.
Adv Masutha responded that Clauses 24, 25 and 26 catered for the protection of older persons in private homes.
The meeting was adjourned