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Ria Van Straaten, 87, Forced to Sing for Her $22 Pension Check

Ria Van Straaten, a partially-blind woman in Newcastle, South Africa, was humiliated when a local government office forced her to sing before receiving her $22 old-age pension check, reports

Van Straaten, 87, reluctantly agreed to sing 'Happy Birthday' after a SA Social Security Agency official withheld her check until she did so.

“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,” South African newspaper The Witness reported.

Her son, Braam Van Straaten, is planning to file a complaint with the Social Development Minister.

“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. “I am enraged that officials can act this way. To make matters worse, this was a female official who did this to her.”

“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."

Source: The Witness and


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