Situation remains dire at local old age home

AFTER several visits by politicians and stakeholders at Elonwabeni Old Age Home in Kokstad, there are still 39 staff members who take care of elderly people despite being unpaid for two months.

Staff members who wanted to remain anonymous said they were promised by members of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature, who visited the home two weeks ago, that things would go back to normal in the institution, including their salaries.

“We don’t want to leave elderly people alone because of unpaid salaries. We want to make sure that they eat healthy food, bath and get their medication,” said one of the staff members. Another staff member said they owed many people and there was no food at their homes.

The old age home has seen much media attention 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 from Kokstad, including relatives of residents, refused and the decision was reversed. Three board members who had been working at the home since last year also resigned last month.

Democratic Alliance (DA) KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson on Social Development Sharon Hoosen visited the home last month and requested that the Department of Social Development KZN Portfolio Committee stop its attempted closure of the home.

On Monday, the party welcomed the news that the home would not be closed.

“When the DA visited the home, there was no food for residents and staff members were not paid,” she said.

“The portfolio committee resolved that the home should have full access to electricity with the assistance of the local municipality and DSD. Also, local district managers are to provide proper management of the facility pending the re-election of an interim board.

“DSD will, from now on, ensure the distribution of adequate food to the home,” she said. Hoosen said the DA would continue to monitor the institution and other facilities in the province and said that what happened at the home should be a lesson to DSD.