Background Non-compliance with anti-epileptic drug treatment in the George area, resulting in recurrent seizures and visits to the emergency department of the George Provincial Hospital, has been identified as a social and economic problem. The aim of this study was to determine the socio-economic and medical factors, the information given to patients by healthcare workers, and the understanding of patients living with epilepsy who presented to the emergency department with seizures. Method A descriptive study design was employed and the data-collection tools were a questionnaire and structured interview. Results The median age of the study population was 32 years. The patients had suffered from epilepsy for a median of two years and visited a clinic for a median of seven times a year. The median education level was primary school and three quarters had no employment or government grant. The majority did not understand the disease, the side effects of the medication and why they should be on medication. In addition, it became apparent from patient reports that healthcare workers showed a lack of counselling skills, time and appropriate knowledge. Conclusion There is a general lack of understanding of epilepsy by the patient. Not only were the patients uninformed, but they also showed apathy towards the management of their condition.