A Durban attorney accused of ‘snatching’ his father (93) is under threat of going to jail for contempt of court – defying an order that he immediately return him to the retirement home where he was living.

Times Select reports the lawyer took his father from the home last week without the consent of his sisters and placed him in a cheaper facility, apparently to save money. The family drama played itself out in the KZN High Court (Durban) in two urgent applications over three days.

The man had been living at the Caister Lodge Retirement Complex for a year when, last week, his son removed him to another home in Malvern, which charges R11 000 a month, half the price of the Caister. The sisters went to court the following day, securing an order from Judge Dhaya Pillay for his immediate return.

The attorney was present at that hearing and gave evidence under oath, conceding that while he had no authority to remove him, he blamed his sisters for placing him at the Caister in the first place.

In correspondence, attached to the court papers, he said he had taken his father ‘to a less expensive’ facility that specialised in dementia patients. He said his sisters had no right to pledge his pension of R22 000 a month to the Caister, ‘which amount constitutes his total disposable income’ and leaves nothing for other expenses, such as medical aid contributions.

In an affidavit in the second urgent application – heard by Judge Peter Olsen – one of the sisters said Pillay’s order was communicated to her brother.

‘In response, a purported application for leave to appeal was received – it was defective, an abuse of court proceedings and not properly before the court,’ she said.

According to the Times Select report, she said she believed the care at the home was not up to the standard at Caister and that her father had not been given his medication. Olsen issued a directive that the man be immediately returned to Caister and interdicted the son from removing him again without the permission of his sisters or the court.

The judge declared the son to be in contempt of the first order made against him, and sentenced him to 30 days’ imprisonment ‘or any other such sanction’, but gave him until September to give reasons why he should not be punished for his conduct.

Full Times Select report (subscription needed)