DA writes to SAHRC over claims of horrific abuse at Ulundi’s Zisize Care Centre

Democratic Alliance media statement by Sharon Hoosen, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Social Development


DA writes to SAHRC over claims of horrific abuse at Ulundi’s Zisize Care Centre


The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal has written to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) (view here) to request an urgent probe into the Zisize Care Centre in Ulundi after an oversight inspection, which has revealed a litany of horrific claims of abuse including that of mentally and physically disabled residents being bitten and receiving corporal punishment from caregivers and unprotected sex between HIV and non HIV positive residents. This while staff and management allegedly turn a blind eye.

The shocking allegations come after community members turned to the DA to intervene on behalf of the facility’s 59 residents who range in age from 18 to 59 years old.

Some of the issues raised with the DA during the visit include:

• Physically and mentally impaired residents being housed together in the same dormitories;

• No nursing staff on site – a basic requirement in terms of medication being dispensed;

• A critical shortage of caregivers and a lack of suitable resources (view photo here);

• The spread of communicable diseases such as TB due to a lack of monitoring by nursing staff;

• Toilets and bathrooms which are not conducive for disabled people (view photo here) amid allegations that a physically disabled resident is forced to bath himself;

• A dilapidated kitchen facility (view photo here) with claims that residents who work in the kitchen and garden are being paid their agreed wage, allegedly because they are disabled;

• Physically challenged residents also having to do their own laundry;

• Patients not being monitored with only one caregiver on duty at times. This despite the fact that there are supposed to be seven caregivers employed; and

• Adult education programmes not being conducted with ‘teachers’ only coming in to mark the register ahead of official visits.

Nothing could have prepared the DA delegation for what we saw and heard at this Centre and we remain deeply disturbed by these findings which we have taken up directly with the management. (Video clips are available at Video 1  & Video 2  )

The reason that people live at such facilities is because they need specialised care and attention. Yet, the residents of Zisize have quite simply been abandoned and it is simply heart-breaking to see how many of them have just given up all hope.

It is increasingly evident that there is a major disconnect between her Department and the many NGO’s which are trying to provide services to communities in KZN. This is evidenced by the lack of critical staffing including social workers. It is also clear from these claims that there is also a complete lack of effective monitoring and evaluation within the province’s facilities.

The DA has written to MEC Thusi (view here) to call for her urgent intervention in the form of a full-scale investigation at this facility and to provide the resources that are so clearly lacking. We will not let this matter rest and we expect the MEC to act immediately.

The reality of a ‘Life Esidemeni’ in KZN is looming large for both the MEC and her Department if they do not get their act together.

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