IN PICS | Senior management leave Durban mental health HQ amid protest over mismanagement claims

Angry staff members and relatives of those who rely on Durban and Coastal Mental Health (DCMH) facilities protested at the non-profit’s headquarters in Sherwood, Durban on Tuesday morning, alleging “ongoing corruption” and mismanagement of funds by the board.

They said the protest action was aimed at highlighting corruption and an attempt to force changes from government at provincial and national level.

The protesters were told on Tuesday morning that representatives of both departments were coming to the facility to address them.

At one stage, the protesters “chased” senior management members off the property, telling them it was “their fault”.

TimesLIVE previously reported on allegations of a looming mental healthcare crisis,  similar to the Life Esidimeni tragedy, in the province, with its oldest and largest non-profit organisation teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for the first time in its 80-year history after the “takeover” of the board under the chairmanship of former attorney Sipho Shezi in 2019.

Shezi no longer sits on the board.

Earlier this year, TimesLIVE reported that residents at its Sherwood facility were facing starvation after a catering company walked off site, and that residents were lying in urine-stained beds.

While the provincial department of health set up a team to probe the allegations and its report has been presented to senior management, staff allege nothing has been done.

Persons with disabilities have been left without food, without caring and nursing staff
A senior social worker

A senior social worker, who asked not to be named, accused key members of management of “blatantly neglecting and abusing” people with mental disabilities.

“Persons with disabilities living in our seven residential facilities, attending our seven day-care centres and seven protective workshops, have been left without food, without caring and nursing staff. Their safety and security has been compromised, and their hygiene has been neglected due to the nonpayment of salaries to service providers.  

“The governing board, the CEO and COO have abused residents’ disability grants and subsidies received from the departments of health and social development,” she said.

Staff, family members and concerned community members had previously reached out to the departments “as a matter of urgency”.

Despite the investigative team set up by the two departments concluding their investigation and presenting their report with recommendations, no action has been taken to date. 

“This perpetuates the gross abuse and neglect of our residents with mental disabilities.”

This is a developing story.

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