Through his work supporting older people in his community, Sibusiso was empowered to start campaigning for older people's rights in South Africa.

Untold stories: Sibusiso Ngcobo, South Africa



I live with my wife, children and grandchildren in Tafelkop, north-east South Africa. I live off my government pension. In my younger days I used to work in factories where I sewed clothes and made shoes. 

I first got involved in older people’s rights after I received training to become an older citizen monitor, which taught me about the rights I have as an older person.

Have you ever experienced discrimination because of your age? 

Whenever there were municipal meetings with councillors in the community older people were told they were not needed because were too old. Only the youth was needed. As time went by and we learned about our rights as older people, we soon realised we had every right to participate in these meetings.  

Tell us about your proudest moments as a campaigner  

My proudest moment was when we older people from Muthande Society for the Aged marched to demand a clinic open five times a week because Tafelkop only had a mobile clinic that came to the area twice a week. The turnout on the day was great. There were many people, and we even had the support from our grandchildren. They said they were participating because they too would one day grow old. 
A memorandum was handed to the local councillor during that march. Since then, more efforts have been made by the municipality to have the clinic open daily. It currently opens three times a week. 

What challenges do older people still face?

Within Tafelkop, there is still a lack of basic services. When an older person is ill on the days when the clinic is not open, it means they have to travel, which costs money. The government does listen to older people, and efforts towards change are made, but there is a lot that needs to be done. 

And finally, what would your perfect world look like? 

My perfect world is one where older people live comfortably, where they are taken care of, and their needs and rights are met. Older people should unite to ensure all governments help older people. 
With thanks to HelpAge global network member Muthande Society for the Aged. 
Read more stories from older campaigners.