Durban – Despite a court interdict against organisers eThekwini Municipality, from staging the events, the senior citizens’ annual parties went ahead on Tuesday
Each municipal ward has a programme for its senior citizens where entertainment, lunch and a food parcel is given to them.
The annual events, which received a R25 million budget from the city this year, have been mired in controversy in past years.
Last week, eThekwini Municipality reported that it had been served interdicted by one of the food parcel bidding companies, Blue Crane, from proceeding with the programme, citing allegations of unfair tender processes.
S’bu Shezi, eThekwini’s acting head of legal services, later confirmed that the city had been interdicted, receiving the papers last Monday.
The suppliers of the food parcels had also been interdicted, he said, adding that it was a “hell of an inconvenience” as dates for the parties had been given to senior citizens.
It was a “huge challenge” as the programme had to stop with immediate effect.
However, the party went ahead in Newlands East on Tuesday with the senior citizens saying they knew nothing about a court interdict or a postponement.
Most of them were just excited about the event at the Newlands East Community Hall.
Lydia Sicelo, 76, and Lilian Sokhona, 72, of Quarry Heights, embraced one another in the hall because they had not seen one another in months.
“We are overjoyed to be at this event. We are with our age group and we going to have fun,” Sicelo said.
Mavis Bezuidenhout, 80, had been attending the senior citizen’s function since its inception. She said it improved with each year.
“All my friends are under one roof. Normally we attend different churches and don’t have transport to get around the suburb to visit one another.
“This event is a great benefit to me. I always thought because we are old no one cares about us. This event makes me feel important,” Bezuidenhout said.
Geraldine Augustus, 68, said they were treated in equal terms irrespective of race and political party affiliations.
Elizabeth La Dute, 66, said she had a “wonderful time” at the party rather than doing household chores and being bored at home.
“At home, people worry about their ailments, but here we are free of worries and anxiety. We also get to dress up.
“The grocery parcel also helps us pull through and stretch our pension a little,” she said.
Other senior citizens said it was a great way to socialise and took a day off taking care of their grandchildren.
Some felt the event was becoming monotonous with long delays waiting for a food parcel. Some called for better entertainment like music bands that can cater for all racial groups, fun interactive games, comedians, a movie or lucky draws.
Joyce Williams, 62, said the database of the senior citizens in the Newlands East area should be updated because she did not receive an entry ticket to the party. Brian Walljee said the parties were becoming more political and racial stereotyping was common.
“Last year, we had a horrible experience because nothing was in order and people went home late. This year, there was a huge improvement. The entire event revolves around the grocery hamper,” Walljee said.
The grocery hamper contained a small box of biscuits, a tin of baked beans, 1 litre juice, a pack of teabags, 1.25kg mielie meal and sugar, 2kg rice and a 2kg chicken.
DA councillor Sharon Hoosen, eThekwini Exco member, said the entire planning and logistics of the programme had been kept under wraps and opposition ward councillors were kept in the dark.
The programme for all 110 wards had not been approved by the council, to date.
“The interdict was done in the hope that the process would be halted and started afresh.
“The city manager could have avoided the continuous embarrassment to the city, and should have taken a stand to stop this programme proceeding. He must be firm on the stance of corruption and bring this city to order,” Hoosen said.
She said that marquees were going up in other wards for other parties on Tuesday, without any information being supplied to the ward councillors.
The DA’s Johnson Chetty, the Verulam and Waterloo Ward 106 councillor, said a party went ahead in Waterloo without him being consulted.
Warren Burne (DA), Sherwood and Bonela ward 30 councillor, said his ward did not have a senior citizens’ party because no one seemed to know what was happening.
“The whole programme is an absolute shambles and events are happening without ward councillors being told,” he said.
Xolani Nala (DA), Reservoir Hills and Clare Estate ward 23 councillor, said their senior citizens’ party was going ahead today.
Asked why the parties were going ahead despite a court order halting them, Tozi Mthethwa, the city’s spokesperson, said she would investigate the matter.