Woman, 87, forced to sing for her pension check

Posted By Kristen Butler, UPI.com  |  April 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM
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Ria van Straaten, a partially blind 87-year-old, was made to sing over a public address system before collecting her R1,200 check (about $134) at a pension office in South Africa last month.

The Witness reports that the woman's son plans to lodge a complaint with Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Braam van Straaten said his mother was humiliated and too embarrassed to speak to the media.

He said a South African Social Security Agency official had refused to assist his mother unless she sang. “I am enraged that officials can act this way. To make matters worse, this was a female official who did this to her.”

At first van Straaten thought it was a joke, but she was given a microphone and the staff laughed as they looked on. When the senior citizen said she did not know which song to sing, the official insisted that she sing and threatened to withhold her pension card. Van Straaten eventually sang Happy Birthday over the public address system.

“Her humiliating performance was on the big screens in the building and staff members found it funny and no one tried to help her,” van Straaten said. He claims the officials bullied his mother because she had gone there by herself.

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