Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi File picture: Phando Jikelo

Cape Town - The investigation into the death of at least 100 psychiatric patients should be extended to all provinces, MPs have urged.

Members of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Wednesday told Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi they were concerned there could be similar deaths in other provinces.

This follows the Esidimeni tragedy in Gauteng in which patients were released into the care of unregistered NGOs after the Life hospital they were housed in was shut down.

At least 100 of them later died.

Motsoaledi and Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba were appearing before MPs.

IFP MP Mntomuhle Khawula said they could be sitting on a time bomb as they did not know the situation in other provinces, and wanted an investigation.

He said they wanted to contain the situation before it gets out of hand. “Minister, we need to find out what is happening in other provinces because we may need to arrest the situation,” said Khawula.

DA MP Lungelwa James wanted to know if Motsoaledi would instruct the health ombudsman to move into the provinces.

“I see that provinces are doing what they want to do in sidelining the minister."

“This audit must be done nationally to make sure and the budget must come from national,” she said.

She said it appeared that the psychiatric patients were taken to what she referred to as death camps in Gauteng.

This was because they died in the facilities they were transferred to.

African Independent Congress MP Mahlubanzima Jafta said it was clear that no proper process was followed to transfer the patients to the 27 unlicensed NGOs.

Chairperson of the select committee on health and social services in the NCOP Cathy Dlamini said some of the deaths could have been avoided. They wanted the Gauteng provincial government to explain what had happened.

Dlamini said all health MECs would be invited to Parliament to give an account of their provincial departments.

But MPs said the probe must be extended to other provinces.

Motsoaledi said the recommendations of the health ombudsman would be implemented, including the review of the powers given to provinces in running psychiatric facilities.

The Esidimeni tragedy has led to the review of powers of MECs in relation to psychiatric institutions.

Political Bureau