Premier David Makhura during the Gauteng legislature debate on the State of the Province Address on Thursday. Next to him is Finance MEC Barbara Creecy. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
Johannesburg - Opposition parties in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature have ganged up against Premier David Makhura and demanded his resignation over the deaths of more than 100 psychiatric patients.

The call and threats of criminal charges of culpable homicide, neglect and murder against Makhura and former MEC for Health Qedani Mahlangu were made during the debate on the premier’s State of the Province Address (Sopa).

On Monday, Makhura told the legislature’s Sopa that his provincial cabinet had been kept in the dark about the transfer of mentally ill patients from Life Esidimeni Health Care to unlicensed NGOs.

DA Gauteng leader John Moodey fired the first salvo at Makhura, expressing his doubt of the premier’s version that he “had no knowledge of the situation that was unfolding”.

“I would have hoped he would have included that he would pursue the matter until those found to be negligent were found guilty in a court of law.

“That he would pursue an investigation into the very likelihood of corruption and self-enrichment (being) the motivation behind this decision to relocate these patients,” Moodey said.

He equated the Esidimeni tragedy with the killing of miners in Marikana in August 2012 and the massacre of innocent people in Sharpeville in March 1960 during a PAC anti-pass campaign.

Moodey said Makhura was equally liable for the tragedy, saying he had ignored calls to act against Mahlangu when the matter was initially raised in the legislature in September last year.

“He failed to do so, he failed to act upon the warnings he received from the DA, NGOs and medical students. It is furthermore found that this matter was taken to court in an attempt to stop the hastened transfer of patients and he claims he was unaware of what was happening.

“I want to make myself believe that this premier, whom I believe to be an honourable man, had not cared less about the safety of the most vulnerable of his subjects, and therefore allowed this tragedy to unfold right under his nose.

“The premier - an honourable man in my opinion - must do what an honourable man would do: he must step down.

“If he fails to take this honourable step, we will embark on a no confidence motion in his premiership.

“The man I called the David at his first Sopa address who faces many Goliaths, has unfortunately become the modern-day Pontius Pilate,” Moodey said.

The ANC, through its MEC for Economic Development Lebogang Maile, has already said they will challenge any motion of no confidence against Makhura.

However, this did not stifle the opposition from expressing their wish to see the demise of Makhura.

Philip van Staden, a lone Freedom Front Plus member in the legislature, accused Makhura of “having blood on his hands”.

The EFF claimed that the “ANC massacred psychiatric patients at Marikana”.

Despite the stinging attacks, newly appointed MEC for Health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa said plans were at an advanced stage to move the remaining patients to suitable homes that care for pschiatric patients.

The Gauteng Health Department, against repeated advice from experts, apparently went ahead with the ill-fated move of patients from Life Esidimeni.

Makhura was set to reply to the opposition attacks on Friday.

Political Bureau