Home South African SIU tackles beneficiaries of Life Esidimeni tragedy

SIU tackles beneficiaries of Life Esidimeni tragedy

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Corruption-busting unit wants money paid to bogus NGOs returned to the state.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi was once brought to tears as he apologised to the families of the mentally ill patients who died during the Life Esidimeni project. Picture: Brenda Masilela/ANA

NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisations (NGOs) that benefited from the death of mental health patients in Gauteng during their transfer from Life Esidimeni are facing a probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

Details of the probe emerged at the Special Tribunal on Friday and SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago also confirmed to Independent Media that the unit was not only focusing on Santa Kamogelo, which is based in Atteridgeville in Tshwane.

The Special Tribunal’s Judge Lebogang Modiba upheld an exception by Santa Kamogelo to the SIU’s particulars of claim against the facility and its representatives, Busi Carrina Morale and GTZ Kambane.

In its papers filed at the tribunal it is claiming about R230,000 from the NGO.

The Gauteng Department of Health entered into an agreement with Santa Kamogelo in August 2016 to provide both residential and non-residential mental health-care services to users with severe psychiatric and/or profound intellectual disability.

According to the SIU, the agreement curbed the number of residential mental health care users that Santa Kamogelo would admit to 186 users and the department would subsidise its costs at the rate of R3,413 per mental health-care user a month.

The deal also stated that the subsidy would be reduced on a pro rata basis for any number of days in a month in which a user did not utilise Santa Kamogelo’s services.

However, Santa Kamogelo, according to the SIU, submitted a claim to the department of almost R4.8 million, which represented the total costs for services rendered in terms of the agreement.

The corruption-busting unit has told the Special Tribunal that Santa Kamogelo admitted only 185 mental health-care users in May 2016 and took care of them for only 20 days.

In terms of the agreement, Santa Kamogelo was only entitled to claim on a pro rata basis in the month of May 2016, and therefore were entitled to claim an amount of R112,298.70 for services rendered to 51 mental health users and another R195,467.10 for 133 mental health users.

The department transferred R477,037 to Santa Kamogelo’s bank account and thus overpaid Santa Kamogelo by an amount of R169,271.19.

According to the SIU, Santa Kamogelo was unduly enriched and the department suffered a loss.

The SIU said between May 2016 and March 2017, Santa Kamogelo submitted claims to the value of over R5.1m resulting in the department overpaying it by more than R59,000 and that the NGO had been unjustifiably enriched.

Santa Kamogelo wanted the SIU’s claim at the tribunal dismissed.

Judge Modiba set aside the SIU’s particulars of claim and ordered the unit to within 15 days from Friday deliver their amended set of documents.

Santa Kamogelo will have to deliver their plea and/or counter-claim or further exception within 10 days of expiry of the period of 15 days.

“The defendants (Santa Kamogelo) seek a dismissal of the plaintiffs’ (SIU’s) action in the event that the exception is upheld. There is no merit in this request. Upholding an exception to a particulars of claim only justifies the setting aside of the particulars of claim. It does not carry with it the dismissal of the summons or action.

“Therefore, it is appropriate to grant the plaintiffs leave to amend their particulars of claim,” reads Judge Modiba’s ruling.

Political Bureau

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