Care centre accused of starving and ill-treating patients

2017-03-22 06:03

The Free State Department of Social Development will probe allegations of neglect and ill treatment of patients at the Ubuntu Care Centre based in the small farming town of Bultfontein.

Located 100 km outside Bloemfontein, the owner of the centre, Secicia Thebesoa, is accused by locals of starving and ill-treating elderly and mentally impaired patients living at her shelter.

The nursing home accommodating 21 patients is also accused of operating without medical staff.

Established in 2014, the home to seven males, including two boys, and 14 females has recently lost about three patients due to kidney-related illnesses, a source has said.

The patients were allegedly not given proper medical attention prior to their deaths.

Thebesoa has on numerous occasions allegedly struggled to feed patients due to a lack of groceries.

Sources said the centre is often bailed out by local farmers, who regularly donate vegetables to the centre.

Operating from a dilapidated building, Thebesoa denies allegations of mistreatment of patients and says the centre takes good care of its patients despite serious budget constraints.

Thebesoa confirms that her non-profit organisation (NPO) does not have a full-time professional nurse.

According to Thebesoa, the centre can only afford two assistant nurses, who get monthly stipends.

She says the R1 300 monthly fee paid by patients is not enough to cover monthly expenses.

The centre is hoping to source funding from the Free State Department of Social Development, Thebesoa says.

Pleading her case, Thebesoa says 19 patients wear adult diapers, which have to be procured by the centre, since family members do not pay for them.

Firmly refuting allegations leveled against her, Thebesoa says whistle blowers want the centre to close despite its efficiency.

Lerato Kapa, spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, said the department will refer the matter to its district offices for further investigation.

The spokesperson said part of the preliminary investigations would include oversight inspections by social workers at the Ubuntu Care Centre.

Kapa warned those seeking hospices to care for their loved ones to verify details of such institutions with the Department of Social Development.

“Care centres are rapidly mushrooming across the province. Some of the NPO’s are not even registered,” Kapa said.

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