Five years after the Life Esidimeni scandal, 125 of the surviving patients may be left destitute again, according to Rapport.
NGOs who are caring for the mentally ill patients say they are in a daily struggle for survival as the government is not paying patient subsidies timeously despite earlier court action. One of the NGOs called a meeting for families of the patients to say they will be closing their doors.
‘The government says it is so sorry about Life Esidimeni and that it will never happen again, but it feels as though we have never stopped struggling since the tragedy,’ owner Susan van Niekerk says. Kairos houses 125 of the former Esidimeni patients. The NGO received a late payment of subsidies last week, but Van Niekerk says it may be too little too late.
The licences to house patients for some NGOs have expired again due to delays at the Gauteng Health Department. Marius Bosman, of San Michele House in Brakpan, which houses 205 patients, says they received an addendum to their agreement on 20 May extending their contracts until the end of June. He says the department’s demands in the contracts make it unsustainable for the NGOs to operate.
Departmental spokesperson Kwara Kekana said they are finalising the overdue service-level agreements and they will be ready before 1 July. Kekana says the department would give preference to subsidy payments to NGOs looking after state patients.