Heartbreaking footage shows man bullying frail 83-year-old mother

By Pieter van Zyl
13 January 2017

“You must listen to me very carefully; I’ll murder you tonight.”

In April last year 83-year-old Henna Scholtz miraculously survived a freak accident at her house in Kleinmond in the Western Cape.

She fainted just as she was opening her security gate for her neighbour. When she fell one of the sharp spikes on the security gate pierced her jaw.

A doctor later said that if the spike had pierced her jaw a little to the left or the right and hit a major vein she might have died. But she survived.

The photos of her hanging by her jaw from the spike before paramedics freed her shocked the country.

Now Henna has found herself in the news again, after a shocking video of her son, Johan Scholtz (56), berating her has come to light.

In the harrowing clip, Johan can be heard shouting as an emaciated Henna, apparently frightened, looks up at him from her bed.

He grabs her oxygen mask out of her hand and throws it aside. At one point he says,

It’s not known who filmed the video.

Johan, whose mother has been living with him in Bloemfontein since November last year, says she’s suffering from dementia.

“I’m really sorry I behaved like that,” he says on the phone. He admits his words in the video sound inappropriate, but says what the video doesn’t show is his mom’s alleged provocation because she wasn’t happy with the care she was receiving.

“I went to the expense of looking after here. I would give her anything but I get no cooperation. She looks like a skeleton. We’ve got expert advice on how to make her gain weight quickly,” Johan says.

Listen to Johan talk and you hear the frustration of someone caring for a dementia sufferer. “She’s my mother; I care about her,” he says.

But he admits it’s not always easy.

Recently, at 3 am, she allegedly switched on Johan’s bedroom light and stroked his face. “She’s comfortable and happy here with me. She doesn’t want to leave,” he says.

That’s why she wasn’t at the airport yesterday afternoon to fly to Cape Town, says Johan.

“We did our best to get her away from there,” says 87-year-old Hannes Louw, Henna’s brother.

He bought the air ticket for her and with the rest of the family managed to get her a place in an old-age home in Paarl.

A member of the family sent him the video. He was shocked. The same family member had allegedly previously phoned him to tell him how Johan swore and screamed at his mother.

Hannes called in welfare to make sure Henna was being well cared for. He has also warned Johan that if he hits Henna he will call the police. Hannes says he would spare no cost to make sure his sister gets the care she needs.

He says since her husband, Pieter Scholtz, died nine years ago in his 80s and her son, Theo, died of diabetes at the age of 56 she hasn’t been herself; she fell apart.

“She would scream at night, but in the last few years she got better,” he says. He and the rest of the family are now beside themselves with worry about her.

Meanwhile Johan maintains he takes good care of his mother. His two daughters  help him. Johan says he has sought legal advice to find out who filmed the video and shared it.

“The video looks worse than it is,” Johan says. “Only someone who has experienced it would understand the frustration of caring for someone with dementia.”

At the time of the freak accident nearly the whole street and the emergency services rushed to Henna’s aid, she told YOU at the beginning of last year. “It could have been so much worse; I’m so grateful,” she said. She had only praise for her wonderful neighbours, friends and loved ones who helped her. “I wish . . . I could show everyone how my heart is overflowing with gratitude. I really have the most wonderful neighbours,” Henna said. “I will never move from Kleinmond.”

Report abuse

According to head of counselling at The Family Life Centre in Johannesburg Judy Ramsden, any instances of abuse should be reported.

She says that in cases, such as this one, the onus lies on those around her who have witnessed the abuse, to report it.

“People who are observers of abuse and aware of it should immediately report it to the department of social development. As an observer you have a responsibility to do so, to know what to do and to follow through,” she says.

According to Judy, once contacted, the department will then investigate the case and if warranted, charges could be made against the specific individual inflicting the abuse. In other cases, the department will look into what kinds of support can be shown to the parties involved.

“The idea is that the person won’t be specifically removed from their families, like in many cases of child abuse, but the department will investigate the abuse and the struggles which have led to this. They will look at which support systems needs to be put into place from counselling, to calling in a psychologist to even getting people like a nurse to come in and help in situations like these where it’s clear that the son is facing some kind of struggle,” she adds.

“In the instance that they don’t want help, if physical injury is a factor, the department can ensure that action is taken because something has to happen – from looking at which other family members can step in to help or finding other forms of support.”

SAPS Provincial Spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini, agrees that it's the witness' responsibility to report abuse to the police.

"Police are also prioritising cases against the elderly and children, and if there is evidence which reveal a criminal intent by any person, police may effect an arrest and bring the person before the court of law.

"It is advisable that the situation of the elderly person on the video should be reported to the police for investigation."

To report abuse, visit the department of social development's nearest office or call 012 312 7500.

Alternatively, you can contact:

  • SAPS (South African Police Service) on 10111
  • People Opposing Women Abuse or POWA provides telephonic, counselling and legal support to women experiencing abuse. Call their helpline on 083 765 1235
  • FAMSA has offices nationwide and gives counselling to the abused and their families. Get on touch on 011 975 7101 or email national@famsa.org.za
  • Lifeline provides 24-hour counselling services. Call the SA National Counselling Line on 0861 322 322.

-- Pieter van Zyl & Shanaaz Prince

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