Body found decomposing in old age home, brother considers legal action

2016-11-11 13:03

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Durban - The brother of an elderly woman is considering opening a criminal case against an old age care facility after her body was discovered decomposing in a room there days after she died.

Mayadevi Nagasar's body was discovered in the Ray Hulett House, run by The Association for the Aged (Tafta), on Monday.

It is believed she had been dead between two and four days.

On Friday, the 71-year-old's brother, Krish Nagasar, 69, told News24 that her body had been badly decomposed when it was discovered and that he was considering opening a criminal case, because he believed Tafta staff should have monitored her better.

"The coroner told us her body was so badly decomposed that it was mummifying. He told me, rather not come and see the body, and I should rather remember her as she was. Her room smelt very bad."

Nagasar added: "It was so bad that her skin was stuck to the mattress. The coroner said, maybe she had low sugar and went into a coma. It could also have been her heart."

He said the coroner told him the body could have been decomposing for up to four days.

Shocking discovery

Nagasar said he became concerned when he could not get hold of his sister all of last week.

He said that, when he called Tafta, he was told that Mayadevi did not live there anymore.

"She was still there though. She was in the process of moving to her new place at Tafta Lodge. She had her belongings at both places. We spoke often on the phone, so it was strange not to hear from her."

Nagasar and two other family members had driven to Tafta to visit Mayadevi on Monday.

"When I drove up, I saw a funeral parlour vehicle. I didn’t pay attention to it. I was parking and my sister and daughter went in."

Nagasar said, moments later, a Tafta staff member came out asking him if he himself had any health complications.

"I thought this was strange. Now I realise he wanted to make sure I could handle the news. Then I saw my daughter crying. Then he told me she had passed on."

Nagasar said he did not understand why no one had called him to inform him of Mayadevi's death.

"I asked why you didn’t phone me and they said they had no contact details. They said she did not live there, yet her bed was still in the room."

Anger and anguish

Nagasar said that he believed if someone had been checking up on his sister she may have been helped.

"If someone was checking on her, they could have saved her. Instead her body began rotting."

 He was “extremely angry".

"We used to care for her. Lately we had so much fun at home with her. I used to tease her and joke with her. She was independent and always did things on her own. She was amazing."

Tafta's chief operating officer Femada Shamam confirmed Mayadevi’s death, but said she had not officially been living at the residence in Ray Hulett House.

"She had moved out at the end of October. She was indeed in the process of moving and we were helping her do so. She did, however, request to move a few precious belongings on her own. We had therefore allowed her to keep keys to her old place."

Shamam said Mayadevi had been seen alive on Saturday, November 5.

"The building manager on Monday noticed her gate was not locked, which was strange. This is when they discovered her body."

Shamam added that Nagasar was not the next of kin contact for Mayadevi.

When asked if there were systems in place to monitor residents, Shamam said Tafta had a "red disk system and floor monitors".

"Whenever someone goes to sleep they put out a red disk. They [remove] red disk out in the morning. If the red disk is still out in the morning, (it) means something could be wrong.”

Shamam said Mayadevi was well known at Tafta after living there for 14 years.

"We offer our condolences to the family. The people here all knew her well."

Read more on:    durban  |  healthcare

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