Home takes Gauteng health department to court over R2m debt

2017-06-28 22:47
Gwen Ramokgopa.(Christopher Moagi, Netwerk24)

Gwen Ramokgopa.(Christopher Moagi, Netwerk24)

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Pretoria - A home for the mentally challenged is seeking a contempt of court order against the Gauteng Department of Health and Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa after they allegedly ignored a court order to pay the home more than R2m owed to it.

San Michelle home in Brakpan on the East Rand, which houses around 200 patients, approached the High Court in Pretoria with an urgent application, which was heard last week, to have the department pay the debt of almost R2.1m.

The courts found in the home’s favour and ordered the department to pay the money and to pay the costs of the court application. The court also ordered that the department meets with the home.

According to San Michelle Board chairperson Benaud Barker, the department ignored the court order and has still not made contact with the home or paid the money owed to them by the department. The deadline for payment was 16:00 last Friday.

The Gauteng Department of Health sent News24 an SMS on Wednesday afternoon, saying it had paid San Michelle the outstanding money and that it would reflect on Friday, June the 30th.

The department said they were waiting for their legal department to provide clarity on the court order and why the order was ignored.

Baker confirmed that the department said it had paid the money, but that they could not produce proof of payment.

Communication 

Barker said the issue emanated from the non-existent communication on the part of the department in terms of the home’s operating licence, which expired in March 2017.

At the beginning of April, the home received an email from the department, stating that the home was not compliant and as a result, its licence would not be renewed and funding would be cut.

Barker said he found this incredibly odd as between February and April, the home had close to 20 visits by the department's officials, and that not once did the home receive any form of communication that it was non-compliant.

Barker also questioned why would the department send the home psychiatric patients from Life Esidimeni if they were non-compliant. 

This after the department allegedly sent ten psychiatric patients, who were originally from Life Esidimeni, to the home following the Esidimeni debacle in which 100 mentally ill patients died.

"Why would they give us psychiatric patients from Esidimeni, if we were non-compliant," said Barker.

The department said they there were no patients from Esidimeni at the San Michelle home and that they would be investigating the claim.

Barker said he had tried his best to get the department to respond to communication, but to no avail. The last email correspondence was from emails in April and May, which stated that the licence could now be renewed. 

The home also received another response from the department last week, stating what was required of it for the new operating licences.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  courts  |  health

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