DA Gauteng MPL Jack Bloom Picture: Antoine de Ras
Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Monday that the welfare of thousands of mental health and other patients in 160 NGOs was at risk following the Gauteng Health Department’s withdrawal of funds due to unreasonable notice to meet stringent new licencing requirements.

“I know of at least three NGOs who have had to send patients away,” DA Gauteng spokesperson for Health, Jack Bloom, said in a statement.

“Staff at the NGOs are going unpaid, and some are battling to feed their residents. Underprivileged children, orphans and people who have been severely traumatised are all suffering.”

Bloom said that an NGO had taken the department to court last week and won its case to force payment of the monthly subsidy of R3,400 per patient, and other NGOs were also considering court action.

“Following the report of the Health Ombudsman on deaths of former Esidimeni patients, nine additional requirements were added for licensing of NGOs. This includes: zoning or rezoning certificates which can take several months to obtain.”

Bloom said that the department was being unreasonable in not giving sufficient time for the NGOs to meet the new requirements.

“The withholding of funds to the NGOs is creating a crisis that could lead to another Esidimeni as many helpless people are dependent on these NGOs which are struggling now to assist them.” 
African News Agency