Gauteng MEC for Health, Qedani Mahlangu
Gauteng MEC for Health, Qedani Mahlangu
Health ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba
Health ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi
Johannesburg -  The tragic news of the deaths of more than 30 psychiatric patients who had been transferred from the Life Esidimeni Hospital in Randfontein to various non-governmental organisations in Gauteng added yet another dark spot to the year 2016.

Almost 2 000 mentally ill patients were moved to community NGOs in the province on June 30.

In September, the Gauteng MEC for Health, Qedani Mahlangu, announced that 36 former psychiatric patients had died in the care of various NGOs.

The news shocked the country with activists demanding that Mahlangu be fired over her department’s bungling of the transfer and for her department ignoring expert advice before the move.

On September 14, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi instructed the health ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, to investigate the deaths.

On October 1, another psychiatric patient died and was buried in Vosloorus, bringing the death toll to 37.

On October 27, lobby groups and angry family members of the deceased held a prayer vigil and demonstration outside the department’s Joburg offices.

During the protest Bertha Molefe informed the demonstrators that her daughter, Sophia, who was one of the 200 patients transferred, had died after accidentally overdosing her medication. This brought the death toll to 38.

Two weeks ago another psychiatric patient, Julian Peterson, died at the Pretoria hospital to which he and others had been moved, increasing the number of deaths since June to 39.

The Sunday Independent