A revolting case of bullying in South Africa: A frail, 87 year old woman showing up at a government office for her $22 pension check was forced to sing for it.
Ria van Straaten is sight-impaired. She went to the Social Security office in Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal province.
According to the South African newspaper The Witness, Mrs. Van Straaten said she did not know which song to sing. But the female official insisted and threatened to withhold the senior citizen’s pension card. They settled on “Happy Birthday”.
Her son Braam Van Straaten says the official made sure the performance was caught on the office’s closed-circuit 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,” he explained.
“Many elderly citizens often brave the scorching heat and adverse weather conditions to collect the funds. Many are also breadwinners and have to put food on the table and I hope to bring this to the attention of the minister so that she can rehabilitate her staff at the Newcastle branch."
Braam says his mother has been quiet and withdrawn since then.
Some local officials are condemning the incident and calling for an investigation.