Bleak Xmas for unpaid hospice HIV counsellors

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

A group of counsellors at Leratong Hospital on the West Rand face a bleak Christmas.

There will be no festivities for them and their families because they have not been paid since November.

"The problem started when funds were sent to the regional health department. We had never encountered this in the past as the provincial office sent money directly to our hospice," said Mapule Tlholwe, one of the counsellors.

Tlholwe and her team were trained by Hospice in the West, a nongovernmental organisation contracted by Leratong Hospital to provide pre-test counselling service and care for HIV-Aids sufferers.

Nomsa Mkhwela, of the finance section of the regional office, said yesterday that the government did not have volunteers on its payroll and that the hospice was responsible for their remuneration.

But Sowetan is in possession of a letter from a director of the West Rand District Council, signed by a Ms P Muso, who apologised to the hospice for the delay in the processing of the payments.

"The department acknowledges that this is not your fault and is taking full responsibility," Muso says in the letter.

Attempts to contact Muso have been fruitless.

Dominique Wollhein, one of the hospice's managers, told said : "We have been waiting for the funds and have written numerous letters to the regional office. The district director sent through the letter promising that the matter will be taken care of, but we are still waiting."