Pretoria - Retired judge Neels Classen will facilitate the mediation between the Department of Health and the family of Martha Marais, the elderly woman who was pictured chained to a bench in the waiting area at Mamelodi Day Hospital.
Provincial Health Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the mediation agreement had been sent to both parties and was set to be signed yesterday.
Mediation has been due to start by September 20. Previously the department requested for more time to conclude its investigation into the 76-year-old’s ordeal.
Marais was restrained under a bench at the hospital, and was found there by family, lying on the tiled floor. A video of the incident went viral, sparking wide outrage and prompting an investigation.
Newly appointed health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku and Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, both got personally involved.
According to Masuku, the investigation was due to take 30 days from the day of the incident in May.
But head of department Professor Mkhululi Lukhele pleaded for more time.
He said the task had taken a bit longer than anticipated as a result of the complexity of the investigation as well as the number and availability of witnesses being interviewed.
“The investigation is at an advanced stage. As pronounced by the MEC, the department is doing everything in its power to investigate the matter thoroughly and once the investigation is concluded, the outcome will be communicated to the stakeholders.”
In addition, the family has also laid charges of assault against the department. The SA Human Rights Commission is assisting the family in suing the hospital, while Marais is receiving counselling at Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
Last month DA provincial health spokesperson Jack Bloom visited the embattled hospital. He cited lack of stable leadership from the ever-changing acting chief executives, staff complement, shortage of beds and dilapidated infrastructure as major problems.
Yesterday, Kekana told the Pretoria News that critical posts would be filled this financial year across the province, and most had already been advertised.
She said 14 chief executive positions were advertised last month, among them that of Mamelodi Day Hospital.
“All CEO posts have already been shortlisted. Mamelodi was identified by Premier David Makhura as one of the hospitals needing urgent intervention. MEC Masuku and the premier have visited the hospital to understand the challenges being experienced.”