n Journal for Contemporary History - The effect of central and local governmental policies on the lives of the aged and infirm in Mangaung, Bloemfontein, 1940-1986

Volume 34, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



Generally speaking the effectiveness of any government depends on the quality of social security it renders to the defenceless people in its communities, being it the aged and infirm, the poor, sick or children. Social security involves proper care, accommodation and financial security. South Africa, with a population of almost 50 million people, is presently facing critical shortages of housing and old age homes, improper medical care and insufficient financial assistance for the aged and infirm. Disturbing press reports like those about the socio-economic conditions of the black aged and infirm are no surprise. The Smit Commission, an interdepartmental commission investigating the socio-economic and political circumstances of urban blacks in 1942 - ostensibly the first official report on black social welfare in South Africa - indicated to Government the lack of proper care and accommodation for the aged and infirm in both urban and rural areas. The investigation by the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) in respect of elderly people in Soweto and the townships of Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Vanderbijlpark revealed that these people were still experiencing serious problems with improper housing, finances including pensions, health facilities and the absence of socialising opportunities like library and recreational facilities in the 1980s. The concluded that their circumstances was "one of the most tragic problems in South Africa".

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