Elonwabeni Old Age Home: MEC needs to act as elderly die in numbers

Democratic Alliance media statement by Sharon Hoosen, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Social Developmen

Elonwabeni Old Age Home: MEC needs to act as elderly die in numbers

 

The Democratic Alliance in KZN has today formally written to KZN Social Development MEC, Weziwe Thusi (see here) calling for an urgent intervention following revelations that 11 elderly residents at Kokstad’s Elonwabeni Old Age Home have died since the beginning of the year.

To make matters worse, the deceased funeral policies have also lapsed, allegedly as a result of financial mismanagement by the Home’s former Board members.  The result is that the families of those who have died do not have the funds to provide a decent burial for their loved ones.

This shocking information was passed on to the DA via an impeccable source within the community. Last week I shared this information with the MEC during a telephone conversation. It was apparent that she had no idea of the number of deaths or of the dire situation that continues to exist at this facility.  During a KZN Social Development portfolio committee held in late September, it was also clear that her Department’s HOD also had no idea of the situation. The question that must be asked is – how is this Department being run?

Is has been three months since the DA first inspected Elonwabeni and discovered that the Home’s 67 elderly residents were living in crisis conditions. In terms of food, residents were completely reliant on local farmers and businesses for food donations, they also had to bath in cold water when the Home didn’t buy electricity. Staff had also not been paid while SASSA cards had been stolen and cashed out at various casinos amid other numerous claims of financial and other irregularities at the Home.

During the inspection, the DA was also told that MEC Thusi had visited Elonwabeni in January when she was made aware of the problems. This visit was followed up by one from KZN Premier Willies Mchunu who confirmed that the Centre would not close and that issues regarding the temporary management would be addressed by the Department.

Despite these assurances, eight months after the MEC’s first visit, nothing has changed. The DA has been reliably informed that the very same issues we reported have still not been dealt with;

  • The Home is still not receiving food supplies from the Department
  • There is no electricity and no gas with which to cook
  • Staff remain unpaid and
  • Issues around financial mismanagement and irregularities have still not been cleared up.

As if this was not enough, the alleged mismanagement within the facility remains unresolved. This is causing major suspicion around who is being protected in spite of corrupt and fraudulent activities at this Centre.

The DA has already written to MEC Thusi about the plight of Elonwabeni’s residents three times. To date we are yet to receive any proper form of response to this correspondence. The DA has also written to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on the issue. We await their confirmation of an investigation.

It is clear that the MEC and her Department’s priorities do not lie with the elderly residents of Elonwabeni. That they have failed to intervene to date is unforgivable and smacks of the worst kind of apathy. In fact, the MEC appears alarmingly disconnected with the seriousness of this situation.

If the MEC will not act, then the Premier must replace her with somebody who will. For far too long the failing ANC has deployed comrades to posts who clearly do not have the interests of the people at heart.  The DA will not allow this matter to rest until the human rights of Elonwabeni’s elderly residents are no longer being violated.

KZN is need of change which puts the people first and treats them with dignity.

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