Another non-governmental organisation (NGO) linked to the Life Esidimeni tragedy has been ordered by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to pay back more than R600,000.
In 2017, 144 psychiatric patients died, many from starvation and neglect after the Gauteng Department of Health cancelled its contract with Life Esidimeni and moved thousands of patients to other NGOs.
A Health Ombudsman report revealed that the patients died after being transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni to various NGOs across Gauteng, due to cost-cutting measures.
The report also found that several human rights were violated in the process.
Since then, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has probed the matter relating to the unlawful and improper conduct on the part of 28 NGOs tasked with the care of mental health patients.
Former president Jacob Zuma authorised the investigation into the Life Esidimeni tragedy and whether NGOs were paid “in a manner that was not fair, transparent, equitable and contrary to applicable legislation”.
On October 11, the High Court ordered the Precious Angels home for the intellectually disabled to pay back R681,112.64. The court also ordered the NGO to pay costs, the SIU said in a statement.
“This follows on the investigations conducted by the SIU which revealed irregularities, maladministration and malpractice with regard to claims lodged by NGOs in the Life Esidimeni,” the SIU said.
The recovered monies would be paid back to the Gauteng Department of Health.
“The SIU investigation into Life Esidimeni is still ongoing with further civil actions to recover monies envisaged,” the SIU added.
In August, the court also found in favour of the SIU relating to two other NGOs involved in Life Esidimeni. The court ordered Anchor Centre and the Dorothy Evangeline Franks facility to pay back R663,275 to the Gauteng Department of Health.