Govt made promises to help - NGO with 'appalling' conditions testifies on Life Esidimeni saga

2017-10-19 16:24
Dikgang Moseneke (Daily Sun)

Dikgang Moseneke (Daily Sun)

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Johannesburg – The CEO of one of the NGOs where 11 mental health patients died has insisted her institution took care of them, despite a damning report by the health ombudsman saying otherwise. 

Dianne Noyile was appointed as the CEO of Siyabadinga in 2016. The NGO took in 73 patients from the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre (CCRC) and three patients from Life Esidimeni at the time. 

Siyabadinga was based on the same premises as CCRC and took in patients from that institution to make way for incoming Life Esidimeni patients there.

Also read: Life Esidimeni: Social worker insists patients were looked after

Despite not being licensed, Noyile testified that she believed in promises made by the Gauteng health department that they would be helping her to sort out her licensing, and pay her.

After a little over two months, the institution was closed down without Noyile receiving the license or the money she was promised by officials from the department.

During examination, arbitration chair, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke asked Noyile why she went ahead - thinking she could take care of patients who required special care when she had a lack of resources, failed to obtain a license and the staff did not have the right qualifications and training.

"Why on earth would you hang on to this?" Moseneke asked her.

'Having love for the people'

"At that time, justice, I really thought I could do it. When it is put on the table like this I can see I was not capable to do it and it is very sad that lives were lost and that I am part of it," she said.

"I just have the heart of helping - which put me in this place I am now. I did not have money. It was promised by [officials from the department] that it will be sorted," she said.

Noyile testified that some patients arrived at her facility with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing, and that she was made promises by officials including the director of mental health Dr Makgabo Manamela. 

"It was not about money. It was about helping the community. I continued because I was helping patients who did not have anyone looking after them at the time," Noyile said.

The health ombudsman’s report described the conditions at Siyabadinga as "appalling", yet Noyile insisted patients who passed away after their stay there were well looked after.

"My wrong doing was having love for the people and there were things that was not put in place. That is why I'm here today," she said.

Earlier when Noyile told the hearing that she loved the patients in her care, Advocate Adila Hassim, representing more than 50 families who lost loved ones, countered with: "But they couldn’t survive on love and fresh air?"

The hearings continue.

Read more on:    life esidimeni  |  dikgang moseneke  |  johannesburg  |  healthcare

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