Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke is heading the arbitration hearings between the State and the families of victims in the Life Esidimeni tragedy. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/ANA
Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke is heading the arbitration hearings between the State and the families of victims in the Life Esidimeni tragedy. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/ANA

Former Esidimeni official questioned over treatment of patients

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Sep 7, 2021

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The Life Esidimeni inquest has heard accusations that mentally ill patients who were housed at Life Esidimeni Group's east rand facility had left without sufficient medication.

The inquest also heard how some patients who were supposed to be transferred to government mental hospitals were transferred to NGOs.

The inquest resumed yesterday and is being heard virtually by the High Court in Pretoria.

The purpose of the probe is to establish who should be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients who died after they were moved to various NGOs.

The move was prompted by the department of health which terminated its contract with Life Esidimeni Group and distributed more than 2000 patients to NGOs across Gauteng.

The former managing nurse at Waverley Care Centre, a Life Esidimeni health facility, concluded cross-examination by various witnesses yesterday.

Zanele Buthelezi, the former managing nurse at Waverley, was questioned on whether patients had left the facility with medication as prescribed in the service level agreement.

Buthelezi said the agreement was that patients would be provided with medication for 28 days if they were being transferred to an NGO. Patients would be given seven days of medical supply if they were going to a hospital.

The conditions of patients varied, some were frail and some were fit to live in an NGO facility, Buthelezi said.

Esidimeni had drawn up a list of patients stating their condition, she testified.

However, the evidence presented by a healthcare worker who was stationed at Waverley has disputed Buthelezi's version.

Rochelle Gordon, the healthcare worker, said she had witnessed patients being transported to NGOs while they were supposed to be housed at a mental hospital.

She said some patients transferred to Tshepong NGO had needed hospital admission, Gordon's lawyer Advocate Amanda Gxogxa told Buthelezi.

Buthelezi said she could not account for this as the Gauteng Department of Health had been given a list of patients describing their health conditions.

Gordon also alleged that patients who were sent to Tshepong had been sent without full 28-day medication.

Buthelezi also denied knowledge of this. She said she was unable to account for what happened to the medication once patients had been transferred.

"What I understand is that mental health care users were provided with 28 days of medication. And seven days for those going to provincial hospitals," Buthelezi said.

The inquest resumes today.

POLITICAL BUREAU

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