Centres for the elderly and young

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

At least 20 townships across Gauteng will benefit from the Department of Social Development's multimillion-rand project to build old age homes and centres for children.

Called the 20 Prioritised Township Project, it was launched in 2006 and is aimed at upgrading and reviving services in 20 townships built before 1994, prior to April 2009.

A total of R3billion from the Gauteng provincial departments' and municipalities' capital budgets was allocated to the project.

Gauteng MEC for social development Kgaogelo Lekgoro said yesterday in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni, that facilities were needed to care for the aged and children.

"Most of the aged are living below the poverty line and the impact of HIV-Aids has resulted in the loss of the younger generation.

"Older people should be empowered to be able to live meaningful lives in a society that recognises them as important sources of enrichment and community support," Lekgoro said at a sod-turning ceremony at the Tsakane Old Age Home.

The MEC said townships that had been identified would each have one project in accordance with its needs.

The Tsakane Old Age Home, which houses 35 residents, will be extended to accommodate more elderly people.

The home also caters for day visitors who come only to take part in the various projects for the elderly.

An Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD) will also be built on these premises.

Vusi Mbonani, the home's board chairman, said he was humbled by the department's gesture.

"We appreciate this and are looking forward to serving our grandparents with pride.

"Children from the township will benefit as well, as far as childhood development is concerned," Mbonani said.

A secure centre for children who are in conflict with the law is being built at Soshanguve, Tshwane.

The R30million centre will accommodate children under the age of 18 years who have committed petty crimes and who have been placed under diversion programmes.

In total, 36 ECDs will be built and 16 of these will be completed during the 2008-2009 financial year, said department spokesman Fred Mokoko.

"All the premises will provide high-level ECD facilities to 120 children. The projects are being developed in partnerships with municipalities and the department of public works," Mokoko said.