I am not qual­i­fied, says NGO owner

‘WE USED PA­TIENTS’ SASSA CARDS’

The Citizen (KZN) - - NEWS - News@cit­i­zen.co.za

The owner of An­chor Cen­tre NGO has come un­der fire af­ter re­veal­ing shock­ing de­tails dur­ing the Life Esidi­meni ar­bi­tra­tion hear­ings into the deaths of 141 men­tally ill pa­tients, who were trans­ferred to var­i­ous fa­cil­i­ties in the prov­ince.

Yes­ter­day’s first wit­ness, Dorothy Franks, con­ceded dur­ing her cross-ex­am­i­na­tion that she was not qual­i­fied to take care of psy­chi­atric pa­tients – yet housed 150 pa­tients when the max­i­mum to do so was 55.

She also di­vulged that she used 29 Sassa grant cards be­long­ing to pa­tients to pay some of her em­ploy­ees. She bought, among other things, “clothes, snacks and roll-on” for pa­tients – af­ter the fa­cil­ity shut down.

This meant 29 Sassa cards at R1 500 each were used per month, amount­ing to R35 000, hear­ing chair­per­son and former deputy chief jus­tice Dik­gang Moseneke said.

Five pa­tients who were trans­ferred died at the fa­cil­ity.

“Why did you do that? The op­er­a­tions were shut down. And you con­tinue to be paid by the [ health] depart­ment, and take money that was meant to look af­ter the pa­tients,” Moseneke added.

Franks said a pro­fes­sional psy­chi­atric nurse was also paid from Sassa, as some money was not re­ceived from the depart­ment.

“You take grants and pay your em­ploy­ees’ salaries?” asked Moseneke.

“We just paid ev­ery­thing out of Sassa that you can’t get out of the depart­ment,” she replied.

An­chor Cen­tre is among the 27 NGOs found to be un­li­censed to take care of men­tally ill pa­tients, fol­low­ing their trans­fer from Life Esidi­meni, with which the Gaut­eng depart­ment of health had ter­mi­nated its con­tract.

The li­cense Franks re­ceived was for learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, but she had taken in pa­tients whom she was not qual­i­fied to take care of, it was heard.

“How can you be a fi­nance con­troller and then take care of peo­ple with se­vere dis­abil­i­ties? ” Moseneke said.

Asked why she thought pa­tients had died, Franks said they died be­cause the “ra­tio of sick­ness was not right”.

“They died be­cause they didn’t get the care they de­served,” Moseneke quickly in­ter­jected, to which Franks agreed.

“The whole story about this is dis­gust­ing. She did not even have the qual­i­fi­ca­tions to care for men­tally ill peo­ple. I doubt she even had the heart for it,” Twit­ter user Shellique Carby said.

The health depart­ment was also crit­i­cised. –

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