Life Esidimeni Inquest - September 6, 2021
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Johannesburg - While the Life Esidimeni inquest is expected to resume on Monday, more witnesses are expected to testify and provide details on what transpired during the relocation of mental health patients.
The inquest was set up to investigate who should be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 patients.
The patients died after being moved from Life Esidimeni health facilities to various NGOs in Gauteng.
The Gauteng department of health had cited costs as the reason for the move.
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Last week Friday, the inquest heard testimony from a former nurse at Life Esidimeni Group's Waverley Care Centre.
Zanele Buthelezi said she believed the transfers were “rush rush” and also revealed that about 60% of their patients were not dischargeable, or suitable for placement in NGOs.
“We pointed out to them that specific (mental health-care users) were prone to relapsing and were thus not suited to be placed in an NGO. They needed a structured environment. We had (mental health-care users) that were just not dischargeable at all and, not withstanding our remonstrations, they were discharged,” she said.
Buthelezi said the task of reducing patients at the facility proved difficult, as there were many issues regarding the transfer of patients.
This included the refusal by some patients’ families to allow the transfers, and the “arrogance” of former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu when meeting the families.
Buthelezi said the admission criteria for some of the NGOs were never sent to them, and there were some NGOs on the list “that I had never heard of since my appointment in 1990”.
The inquest is being heard virtually by the High Court in Pretoria.