Donations to NGO that housed Life Esidimeni patients unaccounted for

It’s emerged that one of the NGOs that housed psychiatric patients from Life Esidimeni has had over R40 million in donations stolen since 2006.

FILE: Patients at the Takalani Home for the mentally disabled in Soweto. It was one of the institutions affected during the Life Esidimeni tragedy. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – It’s emerged that one of the NGOs that housed psychiatric patients from Life Esidimeni has had over R40 million in donations stolen since 2006.

A new board took over at the Takalani Home for the mentally handicapped last December and says it arrived to little or no paperwork and had to begin patient assessments from scratch.

The NGO, which is located in Diepkloof Soweto, is where many of the first victims of the Life Esidimeni tragedy died.

At least 144 patients died in 2016 after the Gauteng Health Department unlawfully moved them from Esidimeni facilities to illegal or ill-equipped NGOs.

Former staff at the Takalani Home have allegedly destroyed files and other records which could set back police investigations.

The home’s director, Judgement Gumede, says that many were fired for wrongdoing last year, while some resigned.

Gumede says that an investigation has shown that private donations and government subsidies worth millions of rands have been unaccounted for.

“All those millions that were donated to the organisations were stolen.”

He also says two previous board members were charged with 99 counts of mismanagement and other offenses.

DA CALLS ON DEPARTMENT TO PAY NGOS ON TIME

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the provincial Health Department to ensure that all NGOs taking care of the vulnerable are paid timeously and regularly.

The party says the Takalani Home is running out of food because of late subsidy payments from the department.

The DA's Jack Bloom says despite new management, the home hasn't received what it was promised.

“It’s serious for Takalani and other NGOs to feel they haven’t been paid by the department. It’s unfair that delayed payments affect the good work done by homes like Takalani.”

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)