Human rights watchdog to investigate challenges faced by mentally ill patients

28 June 2017 - 15:02 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is set to conduct an investigation into issues affecting mentally ill patients‚ including the tragic deaths of patients who were transferred from Life Esidimeni to various NGOs.

This is contained in the SAHRC's Civil and Political Rights report launched on Wednesday.

The report examines "key" developments around civil and political rights in the country between 2016/2017.

"The SAHRC is preparing to undertake an investigation into the systematic issues that led to the tragic situation [deaths of patients] and will continue monitoring the Esidimeni situation‚" the report reads.

The Commission said it will also host an investigative hearing on "key issues" related to mental disability and access to healthcare services in South Africa‚ which it said will require a process of identifying some of the systematic issues and defining what role the SAHRC can and should play going forward.

The SAHRC recommends that government should ensure that all parties involved in implementing the recommendations in the Ombudsman's report are "adequately and capacitated to do so".

The organisation will in August be holding hearings on the issues affecting mentally ill patients including the stigma attached to the illness and circumstances the Life Esidimeni patients were living under.

"The hearings are not limited to Life Esidimeni‚but will include issues related to mental disability‚" said Pandelis Gregoriou of the SAHRC.

On February 1‚ Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba released a report revealing that at least 94 psychiatric patients died following their forced removals from the Life Esidimeni homes.

It was later revealed that more than 100 patients died.

Makgoba recommended that all NGOs that looked after patients be shut down and that police investigate the NGOs where patients died.

About 700 of the patients moved out of Life Esidimeni healthcare centres were placed in unlicensed facilities run by the NGOs.

- TimesLIVE