KZN unrest: Old age homes running out of food

Facilities for the elderly in Durban are battling with staff shortages and are not getting food deliveries as looting continues

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Photo of looted shops

Residents have been left without access to basic necessities such as bread and milk after shopping areas such as this one in Pinetown, Durban, were looted. Photo: Nokulunga Majola.

  • Durban old age homes are working with skeleton staff and struggling to get food deliveries because of the unrest in KZN.
  • The Association for the Aged has been unable to deliver its meals on wheels or provide home-based care for the elderly it serves.
  • One old age home said it is in urgent need of basic items such as bread; others have food to last only until Friday.

Ongoing and widespread looting and torching of shops in KwaZulu-Natal has left whole areas without access to basic groceries such as bread and milk.

Old age homes and other facilities that provide services to the elderly in Durban have been hard hit and staff have not been able to get to work. Their food supplies are also running out.

Sfiso Ngidi, administrator at The Issy Geshen Lamont Home for the Aged in Lamontville, Durban, said they are working with a skeleton staff. He told GroundUp that they have food to last until Friday. The home provides 24-hour frail-care and nursing-care to 68 people who receive a state pension.

“We were supposed to buy our groceries yesterday but we couldn’t because of the protests. Fortunately, we had a food donation drive and that is going to last us for a few days, if the situation is not resolved after that we will be in trouble,” said Ngidi.

He said just 18 of their 39 staff were able to work today across the day and night shifts. Many could not find transport to get to work. “We are fortunate that some of the staff live in the area, otherwise we wouldn’t have anyone to look after our elderly. What worries me is that some of our elderly had doctors’ appointments which had to be postponed because clinics are closed,” said Ngidi.

CEO of The Association for the Aged (TAFTA) Femada Shamam said many of their homes were in the vicinity of the unrest.

TAFTA owns 14 buildings and provides support services, such as meals on wheels and home-based care, to enable older people to continue living in their own homes. They have 1,600 residents in their homes and are in need of bread and essential groceries.

“Unfortunately, our outsourced food catering supplier has experienced food stock shortages from their own suppliers … We have also been unable to render services to our community-based meals on wheels beneficiaries. We are extremely concerned about coming days and hope that the situation is brought under control as soon as possible,” Shamam.

“Thankfully, many of our homes’ staff, together with fit and able volunteer elders in the homes, continue services to elders with food stocks at hand. They remain our true frontline heroes,” he said.

Kasthurie Naicker of Mothwa Haven Old Age Home in Glenwood said they have also been affected by the protests and are taking one day at a time. “We are trying to use our groceries and supplies sparingly and work with five staff that could get to work,” said Naicker.

The home has 60 elderly residents. “We are in need of vegetables and bread for our elderly as there are no deliveries,” said Naicker.

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