The family of Ellen Mbhele, an elderly woman who passed away on her way to collect a social grant on Monday in Pimville, Soweto, has pleaded with government to help provide them with trauma counselling.
The deceased's daughter, Phumzile Kheswa, told the media on Tuesday that the family was deeply disturbed by the picture of their mother's dead body that has been circulating on social media.
When responding to a question from journalists about what would they'd like government to help with, Kheswa said: “maybe counseling after the funeral because of the pictures that are going around on social media. As black people we respect someone’s body, but someone took her picture before her body was covered and that is disturbing for me,” she said.
Kheswa reiterated that her mother did not pass away while on a queue to get the grant.
“She was not at the pay-point exactly, she was on her way there, where they collect grants. This didn’t happen because of long queues or for standing long, or negligence caused by anyone. It was time (for her to pass away)," she said.
The deceased's brother in-law, Vusi Mbhokane, said the media should go to the scene and report, instead of relying on social media because it leads to inaccurate reporting.
“Get it from the horse’s mouth, from the people who went to the scene where the old lady was lying,” he said.
Gauteng acting MEC for Social Development, Panyaza Lesufi, said the provincial government would ensure that the deceased and other two felow pensioners who passed away in other parts of the country will still receive their grants.
The MEC said even if the pensioner died outside government facilities, the provincial government feels obligated to help.
“The mother was coming to collect her social grant. Unfortunately it was not collected, so we are putting in the system to ensure that the grant is paid to the family,” he said.
“We really believe as government we should assist so they can have closure, so we have made our team available to assist the family,” Lesufi said.
Her death comes as thousands of elderly and disabled people were urged to collect their social grants earlier than normal in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa. Other grants, including the child support one, will be collected from April 1.