The Older Persons Act, 2006 is intended to
protect, promote and maintain the status,
rights, well-being and security of older
persons. It is an Act that aims at combating
the abuse of older persons.
WHO QUALIFIES TO BE AN OLDER PERSON
IN TERMS OF THE ACT?
An older person is the person who, in the
case of a male, is 65 years of age or older
and, in the case of a female, is 60 years of
age or older.
WHAT IS AN ABUSE OF AN OLDER PERSON?
An abuse of an older person occurs where
any person, in a relationship where there is
an expectation of trust, does something or
fails to do something that causes harm or
distress or is likely to cause harm or distress
to an older person.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ABUSE THAT
AMOUNT TO ‘ABUSE OF OLDER PERSONS’
IN TERMS OF THE ACT ?
Physical abuse, which means any act
or threat of physical violence towards an
older person, e.g. pushing, clapping, biting,
throttling, stabbing, threats with a fist,
threats to kill, etc.
Sexual abuse means any conduct that
violates the sexual integrity of an older
person, which includes sexual penetration
by a genital organ or object, flashing of
genital organs, compelling an older person to watch a sexual act, the use of sexual slurs
against an older person such as bitch, whore,
Psychological abuse means any pattern
of degrading or humiliating conduct towards
an older person, which includes repeated
insults, ridicule or name calling; repeated
threats to cause emotional pain; repeated
invasion of an older person’s privacy, liberty,
integrity or security, etc.
Economic abuse includes depriving an
older person of economic or financial resource
he/ she is entitled to by law, including those
that he/she requires out of necessity, e.g.
failing to provide money or food to the older
person; children with an older person to
force him/her to pay for the well-being of
your children; employing an older person to
take care of your children without a salary;
using the old age pension funds, retirement
funds or finances of an older person to pay
for your expenses without her permission;
Economic abuse also means disposing
household effects or property that belongs
to an older person, e.g. selling the house,
furniture or any other goods of the older
person without consent of such older
person; spending the retirement funds or
inheritance of the older person without
WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF OLDER PERSONS
IN TERMS OF THE OLDER PERSONS ACT?
THE ACT GIVES THE OLDER PERSONS THE
Participate in community life in any
position appropriate to his or her
interest and capabilities;
Participate in inter-generational
Establish and participate in structures
and associations for older persons;
Participate in activities that enhance his
or her income-generating
Live in an environment catering for his or
her changing capacities; and
Access opportunities that promote his or
her optimal level of social, physical, mental
and emotional well being.
WHO MUST REPORT THE ABUSE OF OLDER
Any person who suspects that an older
person has been abused or suffers from
an abuse - related injury.
WHERE THE REPORT MUST BE MADE?
The report must be immediately made to the police or the Director-General: Department of
Social Development. The report may also
be made to the social worker who will then
assist in taking action against the abuser.
Failure to report an abuse of an older person
amounts to a crime punishable by the law.
WHAT IS THE IMMEDIATE RELIEF AVAILABLE
TO THE OLDER PERSON AFTER THE MATTER
HAS BEEN REPORTED TO THE POLICE?
Upon receipt of report from the social
worker, the police official may issue the
alleged abuser with a written notice calling
upon him/ her to leave the home or place
of residence of the older person or stop
entering such place or having contact with
the older person until the matter is dealt
with by the court.
On the court date, the magistrate will consider all issues raised in the written notice, and may thereafter make the police eviction a court order. The magistrate may also grant a maintenance order against the abuser, where necessary.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE ABUSER FAILS TO OBEY THE COURT ORDER ISSUED IN TERMS OF THE WRITTEN NOTICE?
Failure to obey the court order is an offence. When found guilty, the abuser may be required to pay a fine or be sent to jail for a period of not more than 5 years.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE OF BRINGING THE ALLEGED ABUSER OF OLDER PERSON BEFORE MAGISTRATE?
Any social worker or health care giver may provide sworn statement of alleged abuse to the public prosecutor.
If the prosecutor is satisfied with the report, he or she will request the clerk of the court to summon the alleged abuser.
A magistrate may issue a warrant authorising social worker or health care provide to take a police official with him or her for purposes of investigation should there be access restrictions at the place where alleged abuse older person resides.
WHAT HAPPENS TO A PERSON WHO DELIBERATELY PREVENTS THE CASE FROM BEING TAKEN TO COURT?
It is an offence to prevent a social worker or health care giver from performing his/ her duties.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE ENQUIRY IN COURT?
A magistrate must enquire the correctness or otherwise of the allegations contained in the summons.
The proceedings may be held in an open or closed court. A closed court refers to proceedings held in the presence of few people selected by the magistrate. However, public members are allowed to be present in an open court.
If it appears to the magistrate that any allegation in the summons is correct, the magistrate may :
Authorise the person concerned to accommodate or care for the older person under such conditions as imposed by the magistrate; or
Prohibit that person from accommodating or caring for any older person for such period, but not exceeding ten years, as may be determined by the magistrate.
It is an offence to fail to obey the order of the court.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE ALLEGED ABUSER IS FOUND GUILTY OF ABUSE OF OLDER PERSONS?
The convicted abuser may be sentenced to pay a fine or go to jail for a period not exceeding 5 years, or to pay fine and also go to jail for the same crime.
The particulars of the convicted abuser will be entered into the National Register of Older Persons, which is kept by Department of Social Development.
The Act prohibits any person whose name appears in the Register from operating or be employed at any place that gives access to older persons.
The registered person is also prevented
from providing any community-based care
and support services to older persons.
The victim may be removed from home
to a place of safety by the Department of
Social Development, where necessary.