The Health Ombudsman’s Report into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of mentally ill former-Life Esidimeni patients was finally released on 1 February, stating more than 94 patients have died. This is nearly 3 times more than the figures released in December 2016, and as it stands, this death toll is provisional, as further investigations continue and some families are yet to identify the bodies of some patients. With the release of this report, Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura also announced at a press conference on the same day that Gauteng MEC for Health, Qedani Mahlangu submitted her resignation.
Life Esidimeni Care Centre was contracted by the Gauteng DoH to care for mentally-ill patients for nearly 40 years, but Mahlangu terminated the contract in March 2016 and transferred 1 300 critical patients to unlicensed NGOs, resulting in at least 94 of these patients dying, as the investigation continues. The report clearly insists that patients died under unlawful circumstances, with a total disregard of the rights of the patients and their families.
Many feel that Mahlangu is responsible for these deaths due to her negligence, and should be held accountable for these actions. The DA has pressed criminal charges against Mahlangu for culpable homicide and also plan to take up this issue in the Gauteng Legislature. As the investigation continues, Karibu! will continue to cover this story, as it unfolds.