Friday, 14 June, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalSIU recovers funds from Life Esidimeni facilities

SIU recovers funds from Life Esidimeni facilities

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has recovered money from five NGOs that unduly benefited from Life Esidimeni patients’ Sassa grants six years ago, all of which have signed acknowledgment of debt agreements.

They include San Michele Home, Dolphins Acre, Hephzibah Home Care, Life Esidimeni and Ubuhle Benkosi Care Centre, reports TimesLIVE, and the total amount of debt is R355 414. So far just under R330 000 has been recovered.

“Four of them have paid their debts and one is still paying. The debt is expected to be settled by March 2025, and the SIU will return the money to the South African Social Security Agency,” said the SIU.

The report into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the mentally ill patients revealed that 27 NGOs to which patients were transferred were operating under invalid licences.

Five patients died at Hephzibah Home Care, there being “no evidence patients were selected according to the skills and experience of NGO staff with respect to the diagnostic categories and severity of patients' disabilities”.

San Michele Home in Brakpan, formerly a high school, had ample accommodation and usable space, but was short of 30 beds.

Ubuhle Benkosi Care Centre, intended as a home for orphans, was not fit for purpose as it was undergoing major renovations, yet patients were placed there. It had existed for only one month before being appointed as a service provider by the Health Department and had no track record or capacity to care for mentally ill patients.

In 2012, the Gauteng Health Department had announced it was reducing the number of beds at the Life Esidimeni Hospital to 40% of available beds. The following year it realised the number of chronic patients requiring full-time care was increasing and there were few NGOs to provide such services.

In 2014, it paid R323m for the Life Esidimeni contract, or 1% of its annual budget of R31.5bn.

In October 2015, then-Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu announced the termination of the Life Esidimeni contract, and late the next year, 144 patients died of starvation, thirst and neglect, among other factors, after being moved to the unfit NGOs from Life Esidimeni.


TimesLIVE article – SIU recovers public funds from Life Esidimeni NGOs that unduly benefited (Restricted access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Life Esidimeni inquest: ‘He vomited for four weeks and then he starved to death’


Life Esidimeni: former Gauteng mental health boss denies concealing information


Life Esidimeni transfers not practical, but officials forced to comply, inquest hears


Life Esidimeni inquiry: NGO had grown men sleeping in baby cots



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