Legal wrangle over comatose awaiting trial prisoner Avineshsing Rajbansi
Durban - Prison authorities defied a court order and refused to transfer an awaiting trial prisoner, who had been unconscious for nearly three weeks, from a public hospital to a private one until they were paid R145000 for a guard.
Durban Regional Court magistrate Garth Davis ruled on Thursday that Avineshsing Rajbansi, grandson of the late Amichand Rajbansi, could be transferred and his family would not be liable for the costs of guarding.
But Department of Correctional Services officials insisted Rajbansi could not be moved from Durban’s King Edward VIII Hospital to St Augustine’s Hospital without a cash payment of R145192.20 The charge was for a guard for 30 days.
A department official allegedly told hospital management and the prisoner’s mother, Vimlesh, that he had a court order which supported this stance.
However, the official did not provide the amended order as proof, and eventually allowed Rajbansi’s transfer.
Rajbansi, 30, is said to have suffered loss of consciousness, multiple seizures and a possible hyoxic brain injury.
He was initially treated at Westville Hospital’s medical unit before he was moved to King Edward.
Vimlesh said she was “shocked” to only learn of her son’s condition on Monday, although he had been hospitalised on September 28. She realised King Edward did not have the required facilities to treat her son, and made the court application to have him moved on Wednesday.
Her legal representatives, from Roy Singh Attorneys, said State prosecutor Reenai Ramouthar, who was handling the matter where Rajbansi faced fraud and theft charges, had also not been informed about his health.
Rajbansi had allegedly posed as a registered financial services provider, promised interest payouts to investors, but used their investments for his own gain.
According to the attorneys, the correctional services official said their office had issues with Davis’ court order.
At St Augustines, staff were instructed by Correctional Services that a guard would be placed outside Rajbansi’s ward and that visitors woud not be allowed without their permission.
“The logic in placing a guard at the expense of taxpayers to guard a patient, who has a depressed level of consciousness and requires monitoring as he is not aware of his surroundings, is mind boggling,” said the legal representative.
Vimlesh said her main concern was that her son got the required treatment and the delays in medical care brought about by department officials would not have any further adverse effects on him.
“My biggest relief is that he’s getting the best medical care and I’m grateful how the hospital and court handled this matter, but not the department officials.
Davis adjourned the matter to November 13.
The department had not provided a response by deadline.