The Gauteng Health Department has paid R103m to Ngcebetsha Madlanga Attorneys for work that included an opinion on terminating the Life Esidimeni contract‚ and opposing the two court applications that tried to stop the transfer of mental health patients to unsuitable NGOs where 144 died. Business Day reports that this was disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to questions in the Gauteng Legislature by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Jack Bloom. The law firm was paid this money from October 2014 to September 2017.
After that date‚ Ramokgopa said, she was unable to obtain any reports of additional work “due to the exodus of senior legal officials who were directly involved in dealing with this service provider”.
Ramokgopa said the firm was first appointed by participating in a contract for a panel of legal service providers. A contract and service level agreement was entered into on 4 January 2016‚ which was for 10 months up to October 2016‚ and then an addendum was signed that extended the contract to the end of October 2017. Ramokgopa said “there were no irregularities identified in connection with this law firm”.
Bloom is quoted in the report as saying: “The amount paid to this firm is grossly excessive‚ and it is disturbing that much of this was for bad advice that contributed to the Esidimeni tragedy.”
He called for an independent inquiry into the payments made to the law firm. In addition to work related to the Esidimeni matter‚ the firm did work on labour issues‚ medico-legal claims and some other matters‚ he said.Business Day report