The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has welcomed the settlement reached between Martha Marais, the elderly woman who was tied to a bench at Mamelodi Hospital, and the Gauteng Department of Health.
“The Commission particularly welcomes the Department of Health’s undertaking to provide special training to staff in the treatment of elderly and vulnerable patients as healthcare challenges in the country… are compounded for older persons when they are treated with a lack of respect by healthcare professionals, which is far too often the case,” the commission said in a statement on Tuesday.
Seventy-six-year-old Marais was bound to a hospital bench in the waiting area in May 2019.
Her daughter found her on the floor and begged hospital staff to untie her.
A video of the incident went viral on social media.
“Marais was severely traumatised as a result of the abovementioned incident and her family reported that she barely communicated with them, other than to repeatedly recount her traumatic experience,” the commission said.
Following the incident, the commission assisted Marais in taking action against the department.
In November, the two parties reached a settlement agreement.
“The incident at the Mamelodi Hospital showed the lack of necessary skills and capacity to assist older persons, and the shortage of equipment required to render proper assistance.
“As a result of these and other barriers to accessing adequate healthcare, older persons find it difficult to attend public clinics or hospitals, and only do so when illness is at an advanced stage and irreversible,” the commission said.
It added that it supports the department’s aim to address ongoing challenges in the health system.