Premier’s broken promise

2012-04-12 00:00

THE Gauteng premier promised to pay the medical costs of Thomas Ferreira, who was left brain damaged after being hit by an MEC’s blue-light car. She made the promise to his parents, the media and in a media statement, but now it seems that was not quite what she meant.

What Nomvula Mokonyane actually meant to promise was that the government would pay the expenses through the Road Accident Fund (RAF), the head of Gauteng’s Local Government and Housing department told Beeld yesterday.

Thomas (19) was knocked off his motorbike on November 5 2011 by the blue-light vehicle of Local Government MEC Humphrey Mmemezi. Thomas’s serious injuries includes brain damage. He was in a deep coma for weeks and was only recently discharged from rehabilitation.

Premier Mokonyane visited the Ferreira family with Mmemezi on November 8. During the visit she undertook, first to the family, and then in front of the media, to cover the medical costs for Thomas’s care.

Father Paul Ferreira said Mokonyane said “everything not covered by the medical insurance” would be taken care of.

Later on the same day, Mokonyane’s spokesperson, Xoli Mngambi, issued a statement that said: “Mokonyane made a promise to the family that the provincial government will look after Ferreira’s medical needs.”

Faan Coetzee, director of the law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, said if the provincial government claims it will pay through the RAF, “they are talking nonsense”.

“The taxpayer is paying for it through petrol levies,” Coetzee said.

Before addressing the media to make the publicised promise last year, Mokonyane and Mmemezi met behind closed doors with the Ferreiras.

Mother Priscilla Ferreira said she had been worried over the number of brain scans that Thomas would have to undergo, as the medical fund would only pay for a limited number of scans. She asked Mmemezi about this. “He said we can have as many brain scans as necessary.”

After the visit, the family heard nothing more from the premier.

The Ferreiras’ attorney, Karl Schuler, has meanwhile applied for a interim payment from the RAF.

Mongezi Monyane, who is handling negotiations concerning payments for the medical costs at the Gauteng department, said he was liaising directly with a senior official at the RAF to speed up the process.

The Ferreiras said the costs of Thomas’s treatment were already “far more than a million”.

“Just the hospital costs was over R800 000, without doctors [bills],” said Paul Ferreira.

Their medical aid only covered a portion of this. They are currently paying cash for Thomas’s medication, which costs more than R3 000 a month and R1 400 a week for therapy sessions.

Monyane told Beeld he thinks there was a “misunderstanding” over what the premier promised. He said he didn’t know which budget they would have had to use if the premier’s office or his office had to pay the Ferreiras’ medical debt.

He said they did make extraordinary effort with the RAF. “We have a responsibility. The premier made an undertaking that the government must ensure that the Ferreiras are supported. “This is why I did not even delegate this to someone else,” said Monyane.

Xoli Mngambi, Mokonyane’s spokesperson, yesterday said whatever Monyane said would be what the provincial government does.

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