File picture of Avineshsing Rajbansi being led into the holding cells by the arresting officer.
File picture of Avineshsing Rajbansi being led into the holding cells by the arresting officer.

Claims Avineshsing Rajbansi ill-treated not true, says Correctional Services

By Mervyn Naidoo Time of article published Oct 25, 2020

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Durban - The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has refuted allegations they defied a court order and “ill-treated” an inmate, the grandson of late politician Amichand Rajbansi.

They viewed such suggestions as “misleading the public” and should be condemned in all possible terms.

They were responding to claims that their officials initially defied last week’s court order which permitted Avineshsing Rajbansi, 30, to be moved from a State hospital to a private one. And that DCS’ officials demanded an upfront cash payment of R145 000 from the family for guards to be posted at Rajbansi’s ward during his 30-day hospital stay.

Rajbansi was an awaiting trial prisoner at the Westville Prison in Durban when he fell into a comatose state last month and required hospitalisation. He is facing various counts of fraud.

His mother Vimlesh Rajbansi wanted him to be moved from King Edward VIII Hospital to St Augustine’s Hospital, where he could receive more specialised treatment.

The application to have Rajbansi transferred to St Augustine’s, with no guarding costs for him or his family, was granted by Durban Regional Court magistrate Garth Davis on October 15. Magistrate Davis confirmed that his ruling to have Rajbansi transferred was in accordance with Section 159 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

In a letter to the Sunday Tribune, last week, Vimlesh’s legal representatives stated she was only informed on October 12 that her son had taken ill and moved to King Edward for treatment. That’s when she learnt that her son was admitted on September 28.

He had apparently suffered a loss of consciousness, multiple seizures and possible hypoxic brain injury. For her son to be moved to a private hospital, Vimlesh was told she needed to pay a guarding fee of R145 192.20, up front, in cash.

After Davis made his ruling, Vimlesh attempted, on the same day, to have her son moved to St Augustine’s, but was blocked by DCS officials who claimed to have an amended court order which prohibited the transfer.

A DCS official was asked to provide proof of the amended order, but did not comply with the request. After a few hours of delay, Rajbansi was moved to St Augustine’s, and had a bedside guard on duty.

Vimlesh previously told the Sunday Tribune her only concern was the health and well-being of her son.

However, during her standoff with the DCS over the transfer of her son, Vimlesh was told, during a telephone conversation that it was “none of your concern”, when she asked whose instruction it was that her son couldn’t be moved. Vimlesh posted on social media a recording of the conversation with the DCS official, who insisted the order Davis granted was “wrong”.

She also commented that she was in a fight to give her critically ill son “the right to life and optimum medical treatment”, the official denied her son’s transfer in spite of the court order and she mentioned the cash demand for guarding.

Singabakho Nxumalo, spokesperson for the DCS, said it was untrue that an upfront demand for R145 000 was made because as a State institution, there were stipulated ways for them to collect money, which gets done by their finance officials. He said there would never be a situation where their officials are dispatched to collect hard cash.

Nxumalo denied that the family were not notified about Rajbansi’s hospitalisation. He claimed that their medical staff had attempted to contact his family on a few occasions, but to no avail. He said the DCS provided adequate healthcare services within its available resources, based on the principles of primary healthcare.

Nxumalo said according to the Correctional Services Act, provision was made for private hospitalisation of inmates on the basis the family would incur all necessary costs, including guarding.

About guarding Rajbansi, Nxumalo said it was explained that according to their policy, he had to be guarded by their officials over three shifts in a day. Including transportation, the cost for guarding amounted to R4 838 per day, and would have cost R145 192.20 for 30 days.

“The State has public hospitals and cannot incur costs of private hospitalisation.”

On allowing the transfer of Rajbansi from King Edward to St Augustine’s, Nxumalo said their officials had to first follow procedures before allowing the move.

The Sunday Tribune

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