Life Esidimeni tragedy: Another NGO ordered to pay back the money

Families who lost loved ones in the Life Esidimeni tragedy. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)
Families who lost loved ones in the Life Esidimeni tragedy. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Another non-governmental organisation (NGO) linked to the Life Esidimeni tragedy has been ordered by the 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, News24 earlier reported.

READ: Life Esidimeni: SIU wins civil case against 2 Gauteng health service providers

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.

READ MORE: NPA to establish formal inquest into Life Esidimeni deaths

"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.

News24 reported in August that 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.

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