Gauteng Health defies court order to pay mental health NGO

The Gauteng Health Department has failed to comply with a court order to pay subsidies to a NGO that was described by the Health Ombudsman as an example of good care.

San Michele Home in Brakpan got a court order last week on Friday to compel the Department to pay R2 098 421 by close of business that day, but this was still not paid by yesterday. The home is filing further papers today requesting that the court find the Department in contempt.

San Michele looks after 200 people, some of whom are mentally ill and many who do not have any family to care for them.

Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa disclosed yesterday in reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature that 149 NGOs had not received payment because they were not compliant with new licensing requirements.

She said that by the end of this month agreements should be signed with most of them, and those that were not fully compliant would be given six months to comply.

I think it is disgraceful that the Department stopped the monthly payments of R3400 per patient to so many NGOs providing care to vulnerable people.

This was heartless and legally wrong as proved by the court case.

Proper notice should have been given in the first place rather summarily stopping payments.

The NGOs look after more than 6000 mental health and other patients. Their staff have had to go without payment since March and some have struggled to get food for their residents. In some cases, those with family have been sent home.

According to DA Ekurhuleni Councillor Stefanie Ueckermann, the following NGOs have run out of funds and depend on donations to feed their residents – House Talita in Primrose, Vista Nova in Springs and Kgaugele Stimulation Centre in Tembisa.

The department’s uncaring attitude and disregard of a court order shows that they have not fully learned the lessons of the tragic Esidimeni saga where more than 100 mentally ill patients died.