The commode where elderly residents are expected to defecate and urinate during their “forced lockdown”.
The commode where elderly residents are expected to defecate and urinate during their “forced lockdown”.

Old age home residents allegedly threatened with eviction during lockdown

By Nathan Craig Time of article published Jul 5, 2020

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Two residents of an Umbilo retirement home have alleged they were subjected to forced lockdown and threatened with eviction.

But the management of the home said their action was necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Bartle House is a non-profit organisation and a registered address of Centenary Homes. The home has 32 members of staff that care for 90 residents.

They get three daily meals and snacks, hot water, their own rooms and have their laundry done.

But longtime resident, Marge Kirby, denounced the home because she was confined to her room after visiting her sister who was on her deathbed with cancer on Sunday, June 14.

“I had to say goodbye to her. They were not allowing us to leave and my daughter fetched me. All protocols were followed, we had masks and were sanitised,” she said.

Upon her return to the home, Kirby said she was confronted and asked to isolate herself in her room.

“I was threatened with eviction if I did not comply and the police were called for me. They threatened me and treated me like a criminal. The police said that where they would take me would not be as nice as the home so I should just follow the instruction.”

Kirby was released from her room on June 27.

“I was made a prisoner in my own home. I lost my freedom, just because I visited my dying sister.

“My daughter suffered an epileptic fit when they phoned her and said I could be evicted.”

Mike Kleinans was also placed under lockdown because he tried to assist Kirby.

“We were being punished, they were trying to make our lives miserable and make us suffer. We had to urinate and defecate in a commode in our rooms, had to eat in our rooms and bathe with a bucket. It was demoralising,” said Kleinans.

The residents had also alleged that management was stealing money from their government grants.

Maureen Rambhadursing, director of the Poor Flat Dwellers’ Movement, was contacted by Kirby and Kleinans to prevent their evictions and allegations that government subsidies were being stolen by management.

“I was contacted by the residents and asked to investigate the home deducting R50 from each resident from the R350 provided by the government to assist them during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.

Rambhadursing said a meeting was held with the home’s executive officer, Alan Lukan, and the chairman of the board, Stephen Knight, to address the allegations.

“I was satisfied with the meeting and the necessary paperwork and proof was provided to disperse concerns and conclude the investigation.”

Lukan dismissed allegations of intimidation, victimisation and theft.

He also denied allegations of forced lockdowns.

Lukan said they were made to bath and use the portable toilets in their rooms as the ablution facilities were communal.

He added that outright evictions were not possible as it went against policy.

“Before an eviction is made a process must be followed as it is the last resort.”

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