The DA has welcomed a High Court order authorising the Special Investigating Unit to recover over R600 000 from two NGOs that cared for former Life Esidimeni patients.

The party says it also wants criminal charges instituted against those who were responsible for the deaths of the 144 psychiatric patients.

They died after the Gauteng Department of Health transferred them from Life Esidimeni to unlicensed and ill-equipped NGOs in 2015 and 2016.

The SIU now intends to recover a further R5-million from nine other NGOs.

This follows the unit’s findings that the NGOs continued to claim payment from the Gauteng Health Department even after the patients were removed from their care.

DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC Jack Bloom says it is important that progress is seen.

“I also think that finally, we should see some prosecution for those whose negligence led to the deaths of 144 mental patients. I think it’s important that we see progress with civil charges, not just civil action to recover the money, but the SIU should speed up their investigation, the police should do their job, and those who caused the deaths of 144 people should be prosecuted.”