Judge stops removal of frail care patients

The Department of Social Development is barred from moving patients from Algoa Frail Care and Lorraine Frail Care in Nelson Mandela Bay for the next year unless they first obtain permission from the court, Judge Elna Revelas ruled yesterday.

This comes after the department opted last year not to renew a contract formerly held by Eastern Cape Frail Care to run the two centres.

Revelas ruled against the department’s argument that they would not need any further supervision in this matter.

Revelas also ordered that the department start filling vacancies in the two frail care centres.

The Eastern Cape government will have to foot the bill for the past six months of court cases, after MEC Nancy Sihlwayi decided not to renew the Life Esidimeni centres’ contract.

The families of frail care patients, who formed the Frail Care Crisis Coalition Collective to fight the decision to end the contract, were represented by Legal Aid South Africa.

In December, Judge Phakamisa Tshiki ordered that the centres’ contracts be extended and a curator, Advocate Sarah Sephton, be appointed for the patients in frail care.

He also ordered that before patients were moved, Sephton and a judge must agree that it was in the best interests of the patients.

Revelas has now extended this order until the end of May next year.

Frail Care Crisis Collective spokesman Gerhard Loock said the court proceedings revealed a sad picture of the planning by the Department of Social Development.

“Despite it being adamant in its intentions to close the Life Esidimeni centres and move frail and mentally challenged adults to NPOs, this plan has been shown to be unimplementable,” Loock said.

“According to the department’s own answering affidavit, no NPOs could be found to do this work.

“Families expended unnecessary time and effort in bringing this case before the courts to prevent a violation of human rights.”

Department spokesman Mzukisi Solani did not respond to a request for comment.

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