I am not qualified, says NGO owner
‘WE USED PATIENTS’ SASSA CARDS’
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. –