DA intervenes to ensure that 35 people living with disabilities have a roof over their heads

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) interventions have now forced the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) to provide bail-out funding to the Avalon Association Residential Facility for the Physically Disabled that was on the brink of shutting down due to the department’s failure to pay NGO subsidies on time.

The DA’s effort has ensured that this NGO based in Kensington, Johannesburg continues to provide its 35 residents living with disabilities a roof over their heads and access to proper nursing care and rehabilitation.

Avalon was plagued with numerous financial challenges and has been requesting bail-out funding from the department since 2016 with no success. Over the past five years, despite continual correspondence from Avalon to the department, the department had no formal communication with them regarding their plight or sought to meet with them to discuss their problems.

In August last year, l was approached by Avalon and was dismayed when I learnt about the department’s lack of empathy towards their plight. I arranged an emergency meeting with the department and Avalon.

The department officials and the Avalon board members had their first meeting where Avalon board members requested a once-off bail-out funding to alleviate the shortfall needed to service the outstanding payment to a service provider for care and cleaning services and to assist with the operating expenses.

At the second meeting, solutions were evaluated to ensure the sustainability of Avalon as well as a potential merger with another NGO. After several negotiations with the department, the DA was able to facilitate the much-needed payment of bail-out funding to Avalon from the department.

It is a shame that the department had turned a blind eye to the plight of the needy and people with disabilities for over 5 years.

The big tragedy is that every year the department constantly underspends on its budget and hundreds of thousands of Rands are returned to the Treasury.

This money could have been used to support NGOs so that they are able to survive and provide essential welfare and social services to the most vulnerable members of this province.

The DA will continue to exert pressure on the department to ensure that NGO subsidies are paid on time and NGOs are provided with much-needed support to continue rendering primary and secondary care intervention to the millions of critically vulnerable members of our society.

Another Esidimeni looming: Gauteng Department of Social Development fails to pay NGOs

Gauteng NGOs which signed Service Level Agreements (SLA) have still not been paid by the same failing and uncaring ANC government, which still has blood-stained hands following the avoidable Esidimeni tragedy. . These agreements were signed before the Easter Weekend but to date NGOs have still not been paid.

It would appear that the late signing of SLAs is becoming the norm for the Gauteng Department of Social Development (GDSD). This is indicative of poor planning which is becoming detrimental to service providers and beneficiaries alike.

Despite the late signing of the SLA, NGOS are still expected to pay salaries. According to some of the NGOs I have engaged with, officials at the GDSD told the affected NGOs that they will have to wait 30 days for payment.

While this might be contractually correct, the department is not taking into consideration that it is their fault that SLAs were signed late.

Last year, the uncaring ANC-led provincial government also paid NGOs late and the excuse cited was the national social worker strike. The department has had a year to get their house in order, yet they have failed again.

This is unacceptable as during the 2018/2019 financial year, the GDSD surrendered R347 million back to treasury for failing to use its budget.

NGOs play a pivotal role in helping the most vulnerable in society who are in need of care.

I will continue to engage with the affected NGOs and will continue to put pressure on GDSD to pay NGOS on time.

109 psychiatric patients can’t be discharged because facilities are unavailable

109 psychiatric patients cannot be discharged from state psychiatric hospitals in Gauteng because no suitable facility can be found for them.

This was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

It costs about R6.8 million a month to keep these patients in the three psychiatric hospitals as per the following:

Weskoppies Hospital – 51 patients costing R53 000 a month each
Sterkfontein Hospital – 38 patients costing R47 000 a month each
Tara Hospital – 18 patients costing R129 000 a month each

Ramokgopa says that patients are discharged when they are stable, as assessed by a multi-disciplinary professional team.

If they are unable to live on their own or their is no family to accept them they are discharged to Contracted Care Centres or licensed NGOs nearest their home or area of origin.

The subsidy for mental health patients in approved NGOs ranges from R1249 to R4096 per month.

The solution is to increase the subsidy so that more NGOs are able to take discharged psychiatric patients and provide the continuing care that they need.

Meanwhile, many patients desperately need treatment at psychiatric hospitals but cannot be admitted because beds are occupied by patients who should have been discharged.

This is not a good situation and changes are needed so that psychiatric patients get good care at every level of the system.

MEC Creecy Must Come Clean About GP Money Laundering Scheme

Gauteng Finance MEC, Barbara Creecy must come clean about the provincial government’s money laundering scheme which involves tranches of taxpayers money being transferred to registered NGO’s – only for these funds to be siphoned off to non-accredited NGO’s.

This practice, brought to the attention of the DA by the A Re Ageng NGO, has seen the provincial government shift millions of rands through “conduit” NGO’s to organisations that are not accredited – and who may not be performing the work which they claim to be doing.

This exercise was used by the provincial government to transfer funds to NGO’s during the Esidimeni tragedy which claimed the lives of more than 100 mentally ill patients.

This practice is a violation of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), and needs to be investigated as a matter of priority so as to safeguard the public purse from abuse and theft.

Recently, one such “conduit payment” to the tune of R5 million was intercepted by fraudsters who used the money to make off with 40 000 litres of diesel. This R5 million was part of a R42 million tranche to be transferred via this “conduit” scheme.

The Gauteng ANC-led provincial government is often heard preaching about transparent and open governance, but time and time again, they prove themselves to be nothing more than hypocrites.

Vulnerable residents of Gauteng are placed at risk by non-accredited and non-compliant NGO’s who do not have the skills nor the capacity to provide them with the assistance they require. This is exacerbated when these NGO’s are aided and abetted by the provincial government’s underhanded tactics.

The DA will write to Finance MEC Creecy demanding that National Treasury be allowed to scrutinise the provincial governments’ practices and rule on what steps must be taken to safeguard Gauteng’s finances.

 

 

Media Enquiries

Adriana Randall MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Finance
060 556 4342
 
Warren Gwilt
DA Economic Cluster Manager
073 601 6144

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ANC Councillor And Police General Implicated In Unlicensed Premises For Psychiatric Patients

Police Major-General Sandra Malebe-Themba

I have established that a ANC councillor and a police general are involved in a NGO which looked after more than 100 psychiatric patients transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni at two unlicensed premises in Tshwane.

Police Major-General Sandra Malebe-Themba is the Executive Chairperson of the Re-Bafenyi Victim Empowerment Centre (RVEC) which is a NGO based in Atteridgeville that was established in 2011. Its primary purpose is to provide a safety net to all victims of domestic violence and abuse.

But Rebafenyi Mental Health is a recent programme added by RVEC which says in a presentation had two 24-hour operational centers:

– At Hennops River with 59 beneficiaries
– At Phelindaba (Schuverberg) with 60 beneficiaries

Tshwane ANC councillor Nosipho Makeke-Tyobeka

Tshwane ANC councillor Nosipho Makeke-Tyobeka is listed as a committee member of Rebafenyi Mental Health. At the time she was the MMC for Sports, Recreation and Arts
and Culture and states in her profile that she is a member of the ANC Women’s League.

Last year in November I pointed out that the Rebafenyi facility in Hennops River was blatantly contravening municipal by-laws. This was according to a report by the Tshwane Health and Social Development Department which investigated the NGO after complaints received by DA Councillor Kingsley Wakelin that people living there were jumping the fences and disturbing the neighborhood.

The Health Ombudsman found that neither of the two Rebafenyi facilities were operating with legal licenses and the patients have since been transferred elsewhere.

Christopher Mogwarane

Christopher Mogwarane (56) was one of the patients transferred to Rebafenyi in Hennops River from Esidimeni and died there. According to his brother Lucas, he was not happy there and he did not appear to be getting proper nutrition and medication.

There were fortunately no deaths at the Phelindaba facility, but the patients were unexpectedly placed there in June last year by Rebafenyi and the owners placed signs saying they were not legally liable for anything that happened to them.

I suspect that money was the motivation for certain NGOs taking psychiatric patients that they could not care for properly.

Refanyeni was paid R2700 per patient per month, so it got about R270 000 a month for patients.

Investigation into Money Flow

It is shocking that a senior ANC Councillor and a police general are involved in a dodgy NGO with unlicensed premises in which one patient died, possibly from neglect.

General Malebe-Themba resigned from the police in 2013 after a misconduct probe but was re-employed after acting commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane took office in 2015. She is currently facing a complaint of racism.

There should be an investigation into the money flows and who personally benefited at all the NGOs where Esidimeni patients were placed.

Criminal charges should be pursued in cases where money was diverted into private pockets while patients were neglected and their lives placed at risk.

 

 

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

Psychiatric Patient NGO Operating Illegally

Re Bafenyi Mental Health Institution

The Re Bafenyi Mental Health Institution, which is one of the NGOs looking after 47 psychiatric patients transferred earlier this year from Life Healthcare Esidimeni, is contravening a number of Tshwane municipal by-laws.

This is according to a report by the Tshwane Health and Social Development Department which investigated the NGO in Hennops River after complaints received by local DA Councillor Kingsley Wakelin that people living there were jumping the fences and disturbing the neighbourhood.

The social worker who visited Re Bafenyi on 2 November found mostly clean conditions for the 47 mental health patients who are all on anti-psychotic drugs and have a high level of functioning. The Centre was licensed on 1 April 2016 for 65 patients and is receiving R2700 subsidy per patient per month from the Gauteng Health Department.

Municipal By-laws

Re Bafenyi was found to have by-passed most of the Municipal by-laws as follows:

  • the plot is not zoned to accommodate Mental Health Patients (City Planning);
  • no signage reflecting the name of institution;
  • there is no Health certificate from the Municipal Environmental Health Practitioners;
  • the Emergency Department should also assess the centre and give their inputs on safety measures;
  • no waste management control, the waste is just exposed in an open space which is a health hazard for the patients and neighbours;
  • the plot has lots of stones which might also pose a risk to the patients themselves; and
  • the staff establishment requires the service of Occupational Therapist (Provincial role/ private) so as to stimulate the patients. They are just roaming around the yard.

The report recommends that ReBafenyi complies with the by-laws and that the “Provincial Health Department should only issue operating licence to institution which complies with the law of operating such institution because this involves human lives.”

Tshwane Council Report

I am concerned that this report shows yet another NGO set up in a rush to accommodate patients from Life Healthcare Esidimeni, and it is blatantly contravening municipal by-laws.

Christopher Mogwarane (56) was one of the patients transferred to Re Bafenyi from Esidimeni and died there, allegedly from natural causes. According to his brother Lucas, he was not happy at Re Bafenyi and he did not appear to be getting proper nutrition and medication.

I will be submitting the Tshwane Council report to the Health Ombudsman to consider as part of his investigation into the deaths of 37 psychiatric patients after the Gauteng Health Department cancelled the contact with Life Healthcare Esidimeni.

 

 

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Gauteng Health MEC Should Resign Over Patient Deaths

Lifehealthcare Esidimeni

Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu should resign over the deaths of 36 psychiatric patients at the unsuitable NGOs in which they were placed after being discharged from Lifehealthcare Esidimeni.

She persisted in cancelling the long-running contract with Lifehealthcare earlier this year despite warnings that more time was needed to find suitable alternative facilities.

Her disclosure that patients were sent to NGOs without clinical files that included their medical histories shows how reckless these transfers were in putting patients at risk.

Last year she said that NGOs would accommodate 591 patients and 1193 patients would be placed at the Weskoppies, Sterkfontein, Tshwane District and Cullinan Care hospitals, as well as refurbished parts of the Transvaal Memorial Institution (TMI), Pinnar and Old Germiston Hospital.

The promised refurbishment of TMI, Pinnar and Old Germiston Hospital did not happen, and 1002 patients were placed with NGOs, which was far higher than the number originally announced.

36 Patients had Died

Despite protests and complaints by relatives about the poor facilities at many NGOs, Mahlangu claimed that they had been properly vetted and were monitored to ensure good care.

It was only after I asked an official question in the Gauteng Legislature that she revealed the bombshell news that 36 patients had died in the NGOs in a period of about four months.

We do not know at this stage how many patients died at which facility, but there is evidence that at least 7 patients died at Precious Angels in Attridgeville.

Mrs Christine Nxumalo was phoned by Ethel Ncube of Precious Angels on 25 August last year and told that her 50-year-old sister Virginia Machpelah had died on 17 August. She was not even aware that her sister was at this NGO as she was supposed to be at the Cullinan Care Hospital, but was then transferred to Precious Angels.

Nxumalo found her sister’s body at a private undertaker and was told there were six other bodies from Precious Angels. Her sister suffered from Alzheimer’s but was in good condition when she was at Lifehealthcare. Nxumalo has requested an inquest into her sister’s death and a postmortem has been carried out on the body, the results of which are awaited. Nxumalo has also requested the police to do postmortems on the other bodies from Precious Angels.

Postmortems on All Patients

According to Nxumalo, Precious Angels was only registered as a NGO on 9 June this year. With great difficulty she found the house in Atteridgeville where medics had picked up her sister’s body. She found a house with some hospital beds outside, but was refused access by a woman at the door.

According to an official reply to my questions earlier this year, 35 patients were sent to Precious Angels. MEC Mahlangu has now indicated that all the patients from Precious Angels have been transferred to psychiatric hospitals. Other NGOs where patients have been removed include Bokang where 24 were originally placed, and Siyabathanda where 13 were placed (these NGOs are both in Braamfischerville).

Mrs Nxumalo’s information about Precious Angels is highly disturbing. It does not appear that the Gauteng Health Department is doing a proper investigation of the deaths at this fishy NGO as Nxumalo is the one who has been pushing for postmortems on all the patients who died there.

National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi

I welcome the announcement by National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi that the Health Ombudsman will investigate the deaths at the NGOs. This investigation needs to be done speedily and professionally to ensure than no evidence is lost.

My view is that nearly all the 36 patients that have died in the last four months would probably still be alive if they were kept at Lifehealthcare Esidimeni.

The ultimate blame falls on MEC Mahlangu who failed to take sufficient steps to ensure the orderly transfer of patients to reputable NGOs. She should resign or be fired by Premier David Makhura.

 

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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SPEECH BY MR LEBO MORE, MPL ON COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE WORKERS SERVING COMMUNITIES BETTER UNDER NGO’S, DELIVERED IN THE GAUTENG PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE ON TUESDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2015

The Democratic Alliance is not opposed to the view of decent work to South Africans. It is not opposed to a decent living wage to hard working individuals in the province and it is very important that it be noted that the DA believes in a prospering South Africa full of endless opportunities.  However, a clear perspective on what Community Health Care Workers are, the work they do and how they relate to both the community and government should be looked at.

Community Health Care Workers know very clearly communities they serve. They know in detail health care challenges in their neighbourhoods and all processes needed to be followed when assisting members of the community. These are trusted men and women in all are communities playing very important roles. It is on this basis that there is a need of consistent relationship between communities and government on health services rendered, therefore, Non-Government Organisations or NPOs are better placed to render these services and Community Health Care Workers would be better placed in NGOs than them being placed as another extension of a government wage bill. This of course will also mean that government should have a serious role to play in supporting the roles played by NGO’s who render community health care service.

It shouldn’t be the case that government fails to support NGOs and NPOs that are meant to promote health and wellness in communities because this will definitely reduce current existing pressures in all Gauteng Primary Health Care Centres. Our primary health care centres in Gauteng are pressured with high volume of patients of whom many could have been assisted by well-co-ordinated NGOs which would be offering a focused intervention programme on health education, wellness and disease prevention in homes, thus reducing number of people coming to primary health care centres.  Now, this Honourable speaker clearly shows the importance of Community Health Care Workers.

These NGOs and NPOs would further be able to access additional international funding based on the community work they do as they would also be responding to the millennium development goal that’s speaks of combating HIV, Malaria and other diseases. International funding and government support would enhance their programmes and I truly believe that they would be remunerated fairly and accordingly looking at the value they would be contributing towards the successes of their NGOs.

Honourable Speaker, the DA proposes this as a way forward in sincerely supporting community health work as performed by this dedicated men and women. Where we govern we excellently implement this strategy and it works. We urge on the Gauteng provincial government to seriously look at this progressive way forward.

Non-payment hurts 400 mentally disabled Pretoria children

No Funds

Non-payment of subsidies by the Gauteng Health Department is hurting Pretoria NGOs that look after about 400 mentally disabled children.

Ms Clair Hoff of Ebubeleni Social Investment has written an impassioned letter to Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu about the lack of payment since April this year.

According to Hoff, the contracts between NGOs and the Department expired on 31 March and no new contracts were availed until 4 June. A number of NGOs met all the criteria and signed the documents immediately, but no funds were received.

These NGOs include the following:

  • Lethabo Le Khutso
  • Alpha & Omega
  • Jacobs Well
  • Eersterust Care and Training Centre
  • Qumi Homes
  • Gauteng Mental Health
  • Tshepong Centre for the Disabled
  • Horizon Care Centre
  • Pathways Attridgeville
  • Bophelong Care Centre
  • Thabang Mental Home

The non-payment is putting huge stress on the NGOs who will have to cancel services to exceptionally vulnerable poor children.

Some organizations have resorted to borrowing money from benefactors and parents.

The NGOs are owed more than R1 million and need urgent payment otherwise services to helpless children will be cut.
Media Enquiries:
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
082 333 4222

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