The Life Healthcare Esidimeni centre that closed at the end of May last year.Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/Independent Media
Parliament - The National Prosecuting Authority is preparing to open inquests into the cause of deaths of over 100 patients who died when they were transferred from Life Esidimeni to various unlicensed NGOs into Gauteng. 

"The NPA have just requested all the files because they want to start conducting inquests into the cause of death and start prosecutions of people who need to be prosecuted," Motsoaledi said during a debate on his department's budget. 

He was updating MPs on the recommendations of the Health Ombudsman following the tragedy, as relatives of those who died looked on from the public gallery.  

The minister said progress has been made in implementing all 18 of the ombudsman's recommendations, promising the Speaker of the National Assembly a full report soon.  

A police probe into the deaths was well underway, disciplinary proceedings against government officials implicated in the Ombudsman's report had commenced, the South African Human Rights Commission was probing human rights violations, and the process of closing down NGO's that do not meet standards was in full swing. 

"We have relocated all the Life Esidimeni patients from 20 NGOs. ​There are seven NGOs where we did not relocate patients because some families have refused that their loved ones be relocated, and in some cases, patients themselves because they were extremely agitated and refused to get into ambulances during the relocation process," said Motsoaledi.  

​"Fourteen of the 20 NGOs where patients were removed have been closed down and the remaining six remain open because they are conducting other business other than Life Esidimeni business. We will deal with them in due course as part of a routine operation."  

Motsoaledi said he has approved new guidelines for the licencing and regulation of community-based facilities that deal with people with mental and intellectual disabilities. 

The guidelines, he said, were drawn up by a team of law and and mental health experts, and would be published in the Government Gazette on May 19. Another of the ombudsman's recommendations that a dispute resolution process must be facilitated had already started with "Indeed, together with the Premier we have worked around the clock with family representatives, who are present in the gallery today," the minister said.  

"​Both government and family representatives have identified a very prominent retired judge to lead this process. We will make an announcement after certain processes have been followed."  

Motsoaledi has also set up a three member tribunal led by retired judge Bernard Ngoepe to hear appeals from officials "who feel aggrieved by the Ombud's findings".  

African News Agency