Why abuse of the elderly should be declared a national disaster: Official

Social Development and Protection head Consolata Machuko.

Photo credit: Maureen Ongala I Nation Media Group

A Kilifi social protection officer wants abuse of the elderly declared a national disaster.

Social Development and Protection head Consolata Machuko said cases of harassment and killing of elderly people, especially those accused of practising witchcraft, is alarming.

Speaking to Nation.Africa on Thursday, Ms Machuko said some senior citizens have sought refuge at rescue centres for fear of being killed.

“There is a big problem in the county and many elders get mistreated differently. They are killed, chased from their homes, and seek refuge in rescue centres,” she said.

Since January, she said, there have been 143 cases of abuse in Kaloleni, 95 in Kauma and 97 Magarini.

Of the 97 cases in Magarini sub-county, 24 are witchcraft-related.

She said cases could be higher as some go unreported.

She cited Malindi sub-county, where four elderly people had been killed within two weeks.

"Sometimes the matter is settled in a kangaroo court and subjected to oaths. This must stop," she said.

Machuko said the Malindi District Cultural Association (Madica) had rescued about 30 elderly people, while others are housed at the Kaya Godhoma rescue centre in Mrima wa Ndege, Ganze constituency.

“Even though the elderly are safe in the centres, the situation is worse since the numbers keep increasing. But they are living like internally displaced people (IDP) in the camps, staying in tents donated to them and grass huts in the forests under the mercies of well-wishers,” she added.

The men and women at rescue centres are also put under round-the-clock protection.

“These old men and women undergo mental health problems, depression, trauma, and other psychological torture and they need counselling,” she said.

World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day was marked on June 15 at the Kaya Godhoma rescue centre.

The elderly were treated for various illnesses as part of celebrations to mark the day.

“We want abuse of the elderly to be given attention and declared a disaster,” Ms Machuko said.