Call for probe into embattled old age home

IN an attempt to remedy the dire situation at the troubled Elonwabeni Old Age Home in Kokstad, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has requested that the South African Human Rights Commission launch an investigation into the home. This after KwaZulu-Natal DA chief whip Francois Rodgers visited the institution with DA councillors last Friday.

When Rodgers walked around the institution, he discovered that there was no electricity, dirty linen had piled up due to washing machines not working, fridges were empty, residents’ funeral policies were lapsing, and staff had not been paid for two months.

“The situation at the institution shows that government does not care about elderly people.

“It is unacceptable for the elderly, whose lives are fragile, to live like this and we want to ensure that things change for the better,” said Rodgers in speaking to the Fever­.

The institution has been in the media since reports of financial irregularities and mismanagement surfaced in January this year.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) attempted to move elderly residents to other facilities last month but community members and relatives of residents refused and the decision was reversed.

Three board members, who had been working at the home from last year, also resigned last month.

On Monday morning, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu held a lengthy meeting with Greater Kokstad Municipality mayor Bheki Mtolo, local councillors, and stakeholders about the dire situation of the home.

The meeting was held at the Greater Kokstad Municipal Council Chambers and media was not included.

After the meeting, Mchunu proceeded to the home and was welcomed by elderly residents who were sitting in their wheelchairs while others lay on the grass.

Amongst the residents were Phumzile Nkosi, who celebrated her 100th birthday in June, and 91-year-old Shelaphi Hadebe.

In speaking to the elderly residents, Mchunu promised a better life.

“I was informed that there are many problems that the institution faces and I will ensure that investigations take place for people who are involved to be arrested.

“I will also make sure that there is food and electricity,” he said, adding that he will make efforts for the home to be governed by the right people.

An elderly resident informed Mchunu that they haven’t received their August social grants and Mchunu promised to address the issue with the Department of Social Development and relevant stakeholders.

He asked staff members to keep working despite them being unpaid, saying their salaries will form part of his intervention.