The family of a brain cancer patient from Soweto claims the Government Employees’ Medical Scheme (Gems), refused to pay for a life-saving drug worth more than a million-rand for their relative.

Gems allegedly told Dr Sipho Bvuma – who’s a doctor at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital that the drug was too expensive and that due to the advanced nature of the cancer – it did not believe the drug would save the patient’s life.


Dr Bvuma has won a court challenge forcing the scheme to authorise the treatment, but Gems is appealing the order of the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

Dr Bvuma’s sister Phila says the scheme’s indifferent attitude is disappointing.

“We’re a family that believes that only God knows when each and every one of us will depart on earth, but it seems like Gems are playing God here. The medical advisors from Gems have never examined my brother, as medical practitioners, but yet from a distance they can say we can’t give him treatment; he’s going to die anyway. And to hear that being said about your family member is beyond painful,” she adds.