A client at the Haven Night Shelter in District Six said he was forced to clean and take care of a client at the shelter who had fallen ill. File picture: BhekI Radebe/African News Agency
A client at the Haven Night Shelter in District Six said he was forced to clean and take care of a client at the shelter who had fallen ill. File picture: BhekI Radebe/African News Agency

Claims sickly man was neglected at District Six shelter

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Nov 4, 2020

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Cape Town - A client at the Haven Night Shelter in District Six said he was forced to clean and take care of a client at the shelter who had fallen ill, as staff failed to check up on him or provide the necessary care.

Sylvester van Rensburg, 36, has been living at the Haven for four months.

He said Ricardo Mcombrink, 49, was admitted to Groote Schuur Hospital on October 9 and staff offered little to no support for four days before his hospitalisation, when his health was becoming progressively worse.

Van Rensburg said the manager, social worker, field worker and hosts failed to check up on the client and ensure he was eating.

“The staff have done nothing. Just left him there and didn’t check up on him for four days,” said Van Rensburg.

“I bathed him in the shower, washed his faeces off him, dressed him and put an adult diaper on him. They only attended to him on the last day that he needed to go to the hospital.

“They gave me gloves but did not tell me he has an undisclosed virus. The manager rewarded me with a packet of chips that had expired.”

Van Rensburg said the food given to clients at the shelter had expired and staff members had been taking the “good” food home.

Patrick Letsosa, 35, has been a client at the shelter since March, and said he witnessed the lack of care for the ill client.

“I was there when all those things happened. The person that was sick, he looked like he needed special attention and there was nobody looking after him, making sure he was eating. The care wasn’t enough.”

Letsosa said he was also concerned over the general health status of other clients, as this often got overlooked.

“You’ll never know the sickness of the person sitting next to you, and at the end of the day we are all here in different situations and circumstances and we need to get back on our feet, but this brings you more down.”

Speaking from his bed at the shelter, Mcombrink confirmed that Van Rensburg had to wash him and clean him, and that no staff had come to check up on him.

The shelter manager said she would not be able to comment on this and directed all queries to the Haven Night Shelter chief executive, Hassan Khan.

Khan said their operations manager and cluster manager would investigate the allegations further, as they had very little information to go on.

“We operate on a high standard of care, and these allegations certainly don’t accord with what we do,” he said.

Cape Argus

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