Life Esidimeni Inquest: Gauteng Health Officials Were Warned Against Moving Patients to NGOs

Life Esidimeni Inquest: Gauteng Health Officials Were Warned Against Moving Patients to NGOs

  • Following a scandal involving the Life Esdimeni Hospital in 2016, it has come to light that the Gauteng Health Department was warned that moving patients could result in death
  • The department informed Life Esidimeni in 2016 that it would be ending its contract with the hospital to save costs
  • The Pretoria High Court will be hearing testimony until Friday in regard to the 144 patients who died after they were moved from Life Esidimeni

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On Monday, the National Prosecuting Authority began an inquest into the Life Esidimeni tragedy in which 144 mentally ill patients died after a decision made by health officials in 2016.

Judge Mmonoa Teffo of the Pretoria High Court is presiding over the inquest, which is expected to end on Friday, according to the Daily Maverick

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Life Esidimeni Inquest, Pretoria High Court, Gauteng Health Department, 144 deaths, NGOs, testimony
144 mentally ill patients died after the Gauteng Health Department transferred them from Life Esidimeni to NGOs in 2016. Image: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images
Source: Getty Images

Advocate Adila Hassim stated the purpose of the inquest was to find out what happened to the patients. Hassim further stated that the deaths of these patients was not due to natural causes but rather negligence as well as unlawful conduct by government officials.

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Hassim is representing SECTION27, a public law centre, as well as the families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy.

Hassim emphasised that officials had been warned about the potential fatal implications and risks of transferring Life Esidimeni patients, however, officials ignored all warnings and proceeded with the transfer.

She added that after the deaths of patients and the provincial legislature speaking out against them, the officials still neglected to act accordingly.

Patients were transferred from Life Esidimeni facilities to ill-equipped non-government organisations where they died of hunger, neglect and dehydration, reports News24.

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Former Managing Director of Life Esidimeni Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa testified that when the Gauteng Health Department informed the hospital of its desire to move patients to NGO facilities in order to cut costs, they were worried that a similar fate to what happened at Life Health Baneng Care Centre would occur.

In 2007, the Gauteng Health Department conducted a trial transfer of 15 children from the Life Health Baneng Care Centre to an NGO, which resulted in the deaths of two children.

The children, who were returned to the care of Life Health Baneng Care Centre, were severely dehydrated and suffering from malnutrition. He added that the department was also told that NGOs were not equipped to treat patients.

Moving patients, according to Mkhatshwa, was done hurriedly and Life Esidemini staff members were put under tremendous pressure. He added that the hospital was not in charge of the transfer of patients and as a result, they could not inform the families to which NGOs patients were transferred.

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Previously, Briefly News reported that an ear, nose and throat specialist spent the night in the Edenvale police holding cells on Friday. The police arrested him for breaking curfew as per coronavirus regulations.

Dr Ivan Jardine says on Friday afternoon he received word from his cousin that his aunt, who was dehydrated, needed medical attention and there was no help nearby, according to MyBroadband.

Dr Jardine, who lives in Kensington on the East Rand, decided to make the trip to Quellerina in the West Rand to give his aunt medical assistance. He spent the rest of Friday afternoon and the evening attending to his aunt, who is the oldest surviving member of his family, reports TimesLIVE.

Dr Jardine states that he left Quellerina after 9pm and was stopped by the police at Eastgate who asked to see a permit that allowed him to be on the road after curfew.

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“At Eastgate, the police stopped me and demanded a permit and demanded an ID. I said I was doctor. They did not believe me,” Jardine said.

He further told the police that he worked at a hospital near where he was stopped and they still decided to take him in. After his arrest, Dr Jardine said he called everyone he knew who could vouch for him as a doctor, including the hospital's manager where he worked.

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Source: Briefly News

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