92-year-old pensioner abandoned by family and social workers

“I’m just an old orphan without anyone”

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Photo of a pensioner
Neighbours have asked a social worker to help pensioner Paulina Dludla, without success. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

The KwaZulu-Natal department of Social Development has promised to investigate the case of a 92-year-old Pietermaritzburg woman who lives in a mud house, with no electricity, toilet or running water, after GroundUp alerted authorities to her plight.

KwaMpumuza pensioner Paulina Dludla lives alone. She receives a social pension but, she says, a family member takes the grant, visits her once a month with a few groceries and locks her in her house for the day, using wire to close the door until the neighbours come.

There is no running water in her house or yard, and Dludla relies on her neighbours to bring water and to empty the buckets she uses as a toilet.

She has arthritis and cannot walk to the broken pit toilet nearby.

Paulina Dludla cannot use the only pit toilet nearby. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

Neighbour Gugu Ndlovu told GroundUp she had called a social worker unsuccessfully. The social worker had referred her to a manager and told her never to call again.

“Since then we don’t know who to call or to talk to about gogo,” said Ndlovu. She said Dludla’s two children were both dead.

Contacted by GroundUp, the social worker said she did not work with the elderly. “Someone gave me a call and I referred that person to my manager. My duties do not involve the elderly. I deal with cases involving children, not adults,” she said.

Spokesperson for the department of Social Development Vukani Mbhele described the social worker’s attitude as “unacceptable and unethical”. He promised the department would investigate and take action.

Mbhele said Dludla’s case had been referred to the Regional Chief Director.

Dludla said the food her family bought her did not even last her a month.

“I only get small sugar, small flour, maize meal and 2kg of chicken pieces and that is all. That food doesn’t last for a month and I sometimes go to bed on an empty stomach.”

Dludla’s house has two single beds in the room where she sleeps. There are two buckets, one under a bed and one behind the door, for use as toilets. The house has no electricity, only one candle in a beer bottle.

She said she hated the dark because that was when her fears overwhelmed her.

“I’m just an old orphan without anyone. If it wasn’t for my neighbours, I would have died. Government is giving me money but I go to bed without food. What kind of a life is that for an old granny like me?”

TOPICS:  Government

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