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Illegal CPT rehabs under spotlight amid torture allegations

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The Social Development Department has thrown the spotlight on illegal rehab facilities amid allegations of torture in Cape Town.

In the first incident; the body of missing 35-year-old Igshaan Philander was discovered in a mortuary last week shortly after informing police he was assaulted. This included allegations that his hands were tied, nails were hit into his feet and toilet paper sanitized and set alight on his body. Upon their arrival, police were met with further complaints of assault. Two suspects, aged 15 and 40, were arrested on Tuesday, 16 November 2021.

While the teen was released due to undisclosed circumstances, the owner of the Synergy Rehabilitation and Upliftment Centre was later apprehended. Zaid Isaacs, 37, and co-accused, Ederies Hendricks, thereafter appeared in the Goodwood Magistrate court on Friday, 19 November 2021. The pair face charges of murder and torture. Their case was postponed to next Wednesday, 2 December 2021, for bail applications.

“Be advised that the 37 year old person who was arrested last week is also the owner of the rehab. Him and another accused appeared on Friday 2021-11-19 at Goodwood A court. The case against the 15 year old has been withdrawn. The case was postponed to 2 December 2021 for bail application and further decision from the DPP,” said police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk.

According to the Department of social development, the centre has since been closed down. Spokesperson Esther Lewis said those affected will be assisted.

Meanwhile, similar allegations of abuse of patients at Tranzform House in Schaapkraal have also been made. According to police, four men – including a 17 year old, two 18 year old’s and a 28 year old- appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on charges of assault.

Lewis said both rehabs are unregistered and operating illegally. She adds that the department is investigating ‘these and other illegal rehabs’ and will be working with municipalities and other role players in this regard.

“We appeal to residents to make use of treatment facilities registered by the Department of Social Development. To access information about registered treatment facilities and services, contact 0800 220 250 or visit your nearest DSD office,” said Lewis.


The Western Cape social Development department highlighted the following important points:

What is the first step in getting help?

The first step to getting help is contacting a trained healthcare professional or social worker who will conduct an assessment to determine the type of treatment best suited to the client’s needs. There are different types of treatments available such as early intervention, inpatient treatment, and community-based treatment. A social worker or health care professional should refer you to a registered programme.

Why is it important to seek help from registered facilities?

Registered treatment programmes have been vetted by several government organisations such as the Municipality, Department of Health and Social Development to provide the client with the necessary levels of care. With rehabs, also known as inpatient facilities, it is especially important to choose a registered facility because this means that they have appropriate treatment plans and the correct staff establishment made up of social workers and a range of medical professionals including nurses, psychologists, etc.

How can people be sure that they are using a registered rehab?

A certificate should be displayed at the registered facility or service. An NPO registration certificate issued by National DSD should not be confused with the substance abuse treatment centre registration certificate which is issued by the provincial Department of Social Development and is valid only for five years. Clients should always check the date of issue on the certificate which should be clearly visible. The certificate will also indicate the maximum number of clients that the facility is allowed to accommodate. If it is not displayed, you have the right to ask to see it before signing any agreements.

Tauhierah Salie/VOC

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