The patients’ families were supported at court by members of the Treatment Action Campaign who came to protest against the closure of the centres.
Ntombomzi Qutywa, 40, whose husband, Mpumelelo, has been in a coma for five years at Algoa Frail Care following a vicious assault, was among those present in court. “I am very relieved. “I am feeling much better. I am so grateful,” she said.
The court order was also welcomed by the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition Group.
The Human Rights Commission has also given Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi until tomorrow to respond to allegations that the closure of the centres would constitute major human rights violations.
Gerhard Lueck, from the Frail Care Crisis Collective – the group of families that brought the legal action against the department – said it was a great victory.
“The family members are pleased with the outcome, with an extension being achieved and a curator appointed to oversee future processes,” he said.
“This is the right step and it is regrettable we had to resort to the judiciary to ensure that the constitutional rights of the individuals resident at the two centres are upheld.
“We hope we, as families, can now work in partnership with all the stakeholders, in particular the departments of social development and health, to achieve the best possible service for individuals at the centres.
“We urge the departments not to work in compartments, but to take responsibility in an inclusive and holistic manner.”
Robin Ownhouse, whose sister is in Lorraine Frail Care, said he was very happy about the outcome.
“There is still much work to be done,” he said.
The DA’s Bobby Stevenson – who first raised the anticipated closure of the frail care centres in the provincial legislature – said he was overjoyed.
“I rejoice that the David of the frail care residents has slain the giant of the Department of Social Development,” he said.
“This is a victory for the most disadvantaged members of our society and humanity as a whole.
“It is also a scandalous indictment, not only of the department, but also of the provincial government, that the courts had to order them to make the right moral choice.
“The families of the residents have been subjected to unnecessary trauma and pain.”
Department spokesman Mzukisi Solani and Sihlwayi did not respond to a request for comment.