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Alfred Khumalo, 97, who was deported from Botswana in August last year and has since then been detained at Plumtree District Hospital, has died.

Botswana immigration officials deported Khumalo after staying in that country for more than 70 years. He had been stuck at the hospital until Saturday when he succumbed to high blood pressure after reports that several old people's homes had rejected him.

"Throughout his stay at the hospital we have been battling to keep his sugar levels low and blood pressure normal. He was in a weak state and being admitted at the hospital affected his health," a senior hospital staff told Chronicle.

"It was never ideal for a person in his condition to stay in a hospital. When he came here he was ill but we treated him until he was well and from there he was supposed to move to a proper institution. Failure to do so made him vulnerable to illness."

Despite recommendations to take Khumalo to a proper welfare centre, the Department of Social Welfare failed to assist him.

Matabeleland South Provincial Social Services head Totamirepi Tirivavi said efforts to assist Khumalo failed.

"We faced a lot of barriers in trying to secure a place for Khumalo in an old people's home but we had not given up. Some of the institutions which were approached in Bulawayo indicated that they were full leaving us with only one option which was sending him to Harare," he said.

At one point Khumalo was taken to the United Bulawayo Hospital for nursing but the hospital also rejected him indicating he needed extra care and they referred him back to Plumtree.

Efforts to put him at Ekuphumuleni Old People's Home in Bulawayo also flopped after officials at the institution requested a $50 fee per month for his upkeep but the government indicated it could only provide $15.

Khumalo was born in 1917 in Mbembesi area in Bubi District and on his deportation he said he did not know anyone in the country and indicated that he preferred going back to Botswana.

His deportation sparked a diplomatic storm after reports that the old man was ill-treated by the neighbouring country's officials.

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