The Life Esidimeni Inquest heard by the Pretoria High Court. Screengrab: Judiciary RSA/YouTube
The Life Esidimeni Inquest heard by the Pretoria High Court. Screengrab: Judiciary RSA/YouTube

LIVE FEED: Life Esidimeni Inquest - September 8, 2021

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Sep 8, 2021

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Johannesburg - The Life Esidimeni inquest resumes this morning and will hear re-examination from a former managing nurse at Life Esidimeni.

The inquest is probing the deaths of 144 psychiatric patients who died after being moved from Life Esidimeni to various NGOs.

The move was prompted by the Department of Health who terminated its contract with the Life Esidimeni Group and distributed more than 2 000 patients to NGOs across Gauteng.

On Wednesday, the inquest heard accusations that patients who were housed at Life Esidimeni Group's East Rand facility had left without sufficient medication.

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

Zanele Buthelezi, the former managing nurse at Waverley Care Centre, a Life Esidimeni health facility, 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 7 days’ supply if they were going to a hospital.

The conditions of the patients varied, some were frail and some of them 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 health-care worker who was stationed at Waverley has disputed Buthelezi's version.

Rochelle Gordon, the health-care worker, said she had seen patients being transported to NGOs yet they were supposed to be housed at a psychiatric hospital. She said some patients transferred to Tshepong, an NGO, had needed hospital admission, Gordon's lawyer told Buthelezi.

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

Gordon also alleges that patients that were sent to Tshepong had been sent without a 28-day supply of medication.

Gordon said patients taken to the NGO Shama had no medication provided.

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.

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