Health Ombudsman’s probe into deaths of Gauteng psychiatric patients still ‘not complete’

12 December 2016 - 13:51
By Ernest Mabuza
The health ombudsman‚ Professor Malegapuru Makgoba.
Image: SIMON MATHEBULA The health ombudsman‚ Professor Malegapuru Makgoba.

The Health Ombudsman has still not finished the investigation into the deaths of almost 40 psychiatric patients who died after being transferred from Life Esidimeni into the care of NGOs earlier this year.

Prof Malegapuru Makgoba had indicated in September that he would release his findings in November‚ but his spokesman‚ Ricardo Mahlakanya‚ said on Monday that the investigation was complex and witnesses were still being interviewed.

“The investigation is not complete‚” Mahlakanya said‚ and there is no indication as to when the report will be finalised.

The psychiatric patients were moved into 122 NGOs after the Gauteng Department of Health cancelled its long-running contract with Life Esidimeni‚ which looked after about 2000 patients‚ in order to cut costs.

In September‚ it emerged that since their removal 36 of them had died. This prompted Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi to ask the Makgoba to probe the deaths.

Two more deaths followed that announcement‚ and the Democratic Alliance said on Monday that a 39th patient who had been transferred from Lifecare Esidimeni had died.

The party said that‚ according to a weekend report‚ Julian Pieterson‚ from Newclare in western Johannesburg‚ died last week at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital where he had been transferred from an NGO.

His family had visited him at the NGO in Pretoria where they described the conditions as “terrible”‚ with no proper medication and patients not well fed‚ the DA said in a statement.

- TMG Digital