Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

Thousands of mentally disabled people are suffering in Gauteng because their grants have not been paid since December last year.

This is despite promises by the Gauteng Health Department that all outstanding mental health grants would be paid by the end of April.

Little Eden in Edenvale and Vita Nova in Springs were paid last month after I raised the non-payment issue, but most of the other homes have not received any money.

In the Johannesburg area, only four out of 30 homes for the mentally disabled have been paid.

The Gordonia Home for the mentally ill in Bertrams is owed about R1 million, and has had to cut down on meals for its 75 residents. Well-wishers have been assisting with food donations, but this is not enough and they desperately need the money they are owed.

The Talisman Foundation in the south of Johannesburg is owed R1.5 million and has had to cut staff salaries as they struggle to look after 165 residents.

I wrote to Health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe on 3 April about this dire situation (see email below), but have not received any reply. I also referred it to the Human Rights Commission, but they have been slow to respond.

More than 10 000 mentally disabled people, including children, are affected by the non-payments. I estimate that more than R60 million is owing in total.

It is horribly unfair that the Department is failing to assist very vulnerable people who are totally dependent on others for their survival and care.

The excuses must stop, and payments made urgently.

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