File photo: Independent Media

Johannesburg – The Gauteng Department of Health has called on the Shammah House NGO to engage directly with the family of a man who complained that his 60-year-old mentally ill brother died in their care, and not through their legal representatives.

On Monday the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it had reported an NGO for threatening to take legal action against a man who complained that his 60-year-old mentally ill brother had died in their care allegedly because of “poor treatment”.

Gauteng health spokesperson, Prince Hamnca, said: "The department saw the letter and we felt that it was heavy handed and it was not proper to speak to bereaved families in that manner. We encourage the facility to engage with the family directly."

In a statement, DA MPL Jack Bloom said: “I am appalled that the Shammah House NGO has threatened the brother of a deceased mental health patient who was sent there from Life Esidimeni last year”.

Mike Thlolwe died two weeks ago at Shammah House in Cullinan, on February 12, shortly before an ambulance was to take him to hospital.

Bloom said last week on Thursday a law firm representing Shammah House sent a letter to the deceased’s brother, Ike Thlolwe, threatening him with legal action if he did not retract public statements blaming the NGO for poor treatment of his brother.

Part of the letter read: “Our instructions are that our client attended to your brother’s health and welfare according to best practice and followed every relevant protocol … Our client reserves its rights to take any legal action should they become aware of any untrue, unfounded or defamatory statements or insinuations in respect of their conduct.”

Bloom said Shammah House was acting in a very inappropriate and insensitive manner: “I have reported this to Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa and requested her to intervene to resolve this matter”.

Shammah House could not be reached for comment.

African News Agency