Phoenix murder suspect’s death in custody ’could have stemmed from lack of proper medical treatment’
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Durban – The family and legal team of Jeetendra Jaikissoon, a suspect charged with murder for his alleged actions during the civil unrest which sparked violence in the Phoenix area in July, says that his death in custody could have stemmed from a lack of proper medical treatment at Westville Prison in Durban.
Jaikissoon suffered from hypertension and diabetes which required him to have consistent medical care, according to his family who spoke to leader of the African Democratic change(ADeC) Visvin Reddy at the weekend.
Independent Media briefly spoke to his legal team who had been in contact with Jaikissoon, as well as the other suspects implicated in cases resulting from the Phoenix unrest who are being held at Westville prison.
The team said that the treatment Jaikissoon, as well as the other unrest suspects received, was unfair at the least, and that the men were being victimised for being of Indian descent. They said the suspects were kept for around 36 hours without receiving anything to eat.
The team also said prison staff gave Jaikissoon antibiotics instead of insulin, a drug that is used to treat diabetes. After complaining of chest pains earlier this week, Jaikissoon died in hospital on Friday.
“He was just given antibiotics but he was suffering from hypertension. He was sick for the entire day on Thursday as well as Friday morning. People in prison confirmed that. They took him to hospital at the last minute. This could have been averted,” his legal representative said.
“He was taken to King Edward VIII Hospital and his family went to the hospital when he passed on and saw his body there. The family will also be getting a private pathologist to establish the true cause of his death,” the lawyer said.
Spokesperson for Correctional Services, Singabakho Nxumalo, confirmed that Jaikissoon died at King Edward VIII Hospital on Friday.
"The remand detainee was transferred from Durban Management Area to King Edward VIII Hospital after complaining about difficulty in breathing and chest pains. A detailed investigation will be launched and will be assisted by an autopsy report in determining the cause of death," Nxumalo said.
Jaikissoon was arrested alongside Phoenix brothers, Dylan and Ned Govender on July 22 for allegedly murdering Mondli Majola, a 19-year-old Phoenix resident.
ADeC leader Reddy reiterated the family’s sentiment that Jaikissoon had not received the proper medical treatment for his underlying conditions, despite many family members making it known to prison officials, which led to his death.
“They are awaiting trial, they are not guilty and the reports that we are getting from the inside right now is that they are being treated in a very inhumane way. Jeetendra was very ill and his fellow inmates confirmed that to us, and called for help on the morning of his death. The staff took a few hours to respond,” Reddy said.