Deadly NGO makes R600‚000 after it is shut down

30 October 2017 - 14:32 By Katharine Child
Image: Facebook/Sediba sa Dikgang

Dorothy Franks‚ who ran Anchor NGO where at least five Life Esidimeni patients died‚ was paid about R600‚000 for four months after the NGO was shut down.

More than 72 severely mentally ill patients were moved from Life Esidimeni homes into her small NGO which was so crowded and deadly‚ it was shut down by October 31 last year.

Yet‚ Franks told the Life Esidimeni hearing‚ she continued to receive R150‚000 a month from November till February.

She also admitted she drew 29 patients’ SASSA grants until March this year. This was almost R1‚500 per patient.

"Nearly R35‚000" exclaimed the hearing judge‚ Dikgang Moseneke.

Franks admitted under cross-examination by Moseneke that she knows people in the Gauteng Health Department finance division‚ but gave no further details about their relationship.

Her NGO Anchor had been on the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre premises until it was shut down.

She was paid R539‚000 in September as back pay for patients she looked after and then got R150‚000 a month from November till February.

In total she earned more than a million rand.

Her explanation about why she was paid money without patients was confusing. She said she was still paying nurses and cleaners at Cullinan Care Centre and buying food and toiletries for patients there even though she had been chased off the premises and her NGO shut down.

"But why would you do that when your operation is shut down by law?" an annoyed Moseneke asked. "You are required to stop operating what was an unlawful operation and you continue to take money that was meant to look after patients. What were you going to do with the money?" he exclaimed‚ outraged.

Franks suggested she was still running her NGO remotely and buying patients food‚ even though it was shut down and patients moved into Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre.

Moseneke told the hearing he was "not happy" and it appeared he was trying to remain calm while the testimony angered him.

Three other witnesses at the hearings have testified they believed NGO owners took patients in order to "make money" or because they were "greedy".

Franks made a poor witness‚ unable to explain why people died in her care.

Moseneke asked her: "Why do you think they died?"

Franks answered: "I can't explain. Normally when they got sick I would take them to clinic."

Her NGO licence allowed her to look after children with intellectual disabilities.

"You were in fact catering for adults with mental illnesses‚" pointed out Section 27 advocate Nikki Stein.

Stein asked her: "Do you appreciate that there is a distinction between mental illness and intellectual disability?"

"I know if you… they have epilepsy - they can be mental also‚" Franks answered.

Franks did not appear to understand what mental health problems were‚ describing the former Life Esidimeni patients who had severe cases of mental illness as "highly mental".

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