South African hospitals are pushing the Malawi Government to pay 11.6 million rand (about K592 million) in unpaid medical services bills accumulated over the years by Malawian nationals resident in South Africa.
The Sowetan newspaper reported on Wednesday that Gauteng Health department is on a mission to recoup 160 million rand from foreign nationals, including Malawians.
The newspaper said the department has already sent letters of demand to foreign embassies targeted for the exercise.
Quoting the department’s spokesperson Lesemang Matuka, The Sowetan said the department has launched its debt recovery process against foreigners who failed to settle their bills.
Matuka said embassies were sent letters indicating the amounts owed by their citizens, adding that embassies were engaged to “make financial contributions to the debts of their citizens”.
The department, according to the newspaper, is in a financial crisis as it owes service providers at least five billion rand accumulated over two years.
But Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Emmanuel Fabiano and Malawi Deputy High Commissioner in South Africa Gloria Bamusi yesterday denied knowledge of the issue, saying the Malawi mission was yet to get the purported bill.
Said the minister: “Let us first see the documentation on this matter before we make any comment.”
Bamusi, on the other hand, said the mission saw the report by The Sowetan, but the South African government had not yet contacted them.
“While we are aware of this claim as published by The Sowetan newspaper, we have not received any communication from any agent of the South African government on the matter,” she said.
The South Africa High Commission in Lilongwe also said it was in the dark on the matter yesterday.
According to the report, Zimbabweans owe the largest amount, 114 million rand in unpaid health bills with Malawi second and Nigeria third with an alleged 7.9 million rand.
For years, thousands of Malawians and other foreign nationals have lived in South Africa seeking jobs, but this is the first time Malawi government has been requested to foot any social services bill for its citizens residing in the rainbow nation. n