People over 35 are discriminated against economically based on age

The Basic Conditions of Employment Equity Act, 55 of 1998, states that “no person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against an employee in any policy or practice on one or more grounds, including age.” However, ageism in South Africa continues unchecked.

South Africa is the most unequal society in the world; even job opportunities in the country for those over 35 years old are unequal based on age.

Mr. Mmatlou Tsipa, founder and chairperson of Forgotten Nation SA, an organization that advocates for the rights, needs, and aspirations of unemployed citizens over the age of 35, says, “Some of the challenges they have identified are a higher unemployment rate for people over the age of 35, and secondly, the issue of internships. If you’ve graduated at the age of 35, there are no internship or leanership opportunities.”

Mr. Tsipa continues to mention that, due to discrimination based on age, we’ve been sitting idle for a long time, doing odd jobs. This affects the reference check on the CV when one is applying for a job because one is blacklisted.

Forgotten Nation is the first movement to submit a memorandum supported by a business plan. The plan outlines the identified challenges and the solution to the problem.

Mmatlou says, “One of the major problems they are faced with is mental health problems, and the issue is low self-esteem within our age group, especially the graduates who have hung their certificates on the wall. They are shy about telling their stories. These people have lost not only respect in their communities but in their families too. They are discriminated against at all levels of life.”

Mathapelo Tshukudu, National Secretary of the Forgotten Nation SA, says “being discriminated against based on age leads to depression, because most of these people are mothers and fathers who are faced with the reality of the inability to take care of their family.

A member of the Forgotten Nation posted on their Facebook page, “We thank you; if it wasn’t for you, we could have died through stress, depression, unemployment, and over 35. Keep it up, leadership.”

We are grateful to the Forgotten Nation for our healing.

Anonymous Forgotten Nation members share their stories.

I am 35 years old and have been sending out CVs without success due to my age. I am a mother, and for my kids, I don’t even get a social grant because I once worked at Steers. Being 3 years without a job is tough, and even the 350 I applied for is not qualified because of the IRP5 (an IRP5 tax certificate is issued by the employer to confirm all your income, expenses, and tax details for both the employee and SARS) that I don’t have. When I check with SARS, this government is bullying me physically and emotionally. We struggle through my husband’s salary, so please, government, think about us younger. We still make a living, but you are denying us life and success because of age.

I am writing this email with tears in my eyes because I was discriminated against by my employer because I am 35 years old. I applied for the post I saw online for educator assistant, and I was declined this offer because I am over 35 years old.

My question is: where are we supposed to go with our qualifications, and how are we supposed to provide for our family’s needs? I come from a big family of 19 members, and nobody is working except my grandmother, who is earning a pension from the government. So how are we supposed to survive this life?

Kindly consider us, too, who are 35 years old, to get job opportunities. We feel like outcasts in our own country, and it is not supposed to be like this.

I hope my voice will be heard, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Michael Bagraim, a Labour Expert, says, “There is certainly legislation against discrimination based on age; to discriminate against those over the age of 35 would go against our constitution and labor laws.”

Mr. Bagraim cites that “individuals who feel they have been discriminated against may approach the commission for conciliation, mediation, and arbitration, or the Labour Court directly.”

Mathapelo says, “Every door they knock on, especially government departments, they promise to assist us but never deliver.”

The Forgotten Nation SA contacted the Minister of Employment and Labor, Mr. Thulas Nxesi; they promised but didn’t deliver. They contacted the Gauteng Premier’s office, Infrastructure Development, and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment. The Forgotten Nation SA also contacted the ANC Youth League and EFF; however, nothing materialized.

Nelson Mandela said, “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

2 Replies to “People over 35 are discriminated against economically based on age”


True on that I want to be part of the struggle of ageism

Xolani Baloyi

Good Morning Mpho I hope you are well, you can get in touch with the founder of the Forgotten Nation SA. His name is Mmatlou Tsipo 074 048 1090.

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