Another psychiatric patient dies after Life Esidimeni move

File: Health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba confirmed that a patient moved from the Life Esidimeni hospital to a private NGO had died at the weekend. Video: eNCA
Randfontein​, 15 May 2016 - Families of psychiatric patients at the Life Esidimeni home in Randfontein say they've been left in the dark about the whereabouts of their relatives.​ Photo: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG – Health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba on Monday confirmed claims by the Democratic Alliance (DA) that a psychiatric patient who was transferred to an NGO in Gauteng has died – bringing to 39 the number of patients who died after their relocation from Life Esidimeni.

DA MPL Jack Bloom said Julian Pieterson from Newclare in western Johannesburg died last week at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, to which he had been transferred from the NGO.

READ: Families suffer effect of new mental health policy

Speaking on Talk Radio 702, Makgoba confirmed that a patient had died at the weekend. He, however, said the patient died at Tshwane District Hospital and not at the Steve Biko Academic hospital as earlier claimed by Bloom.

Makgoba also said he now had all the relevant information in his probe into the deaths of 38 patients who had been transferred to various NGOs. He had interviewed as many as 74 people on the matter.

Inspection of the 26 affected NGOs had been completed, added the health ombudsman. He said he had received a a clinical report from a panel of eight experts.

“I now have the documents I need to compile a report,” said Makgoba.

Earlier, Bloom said: “It is also significant that Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu revealed for the first time last week that her own brother was one of the psychiatric patients who died when he was transferred illegally, like all the other families”.

Bloom said Pieterson’s family had visited the brother at the NGO in Pretoria, the conditions of which they described as “terrible”. The family had told him there was no proper medication and insufficient food.

Bloom again blamed Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, a member of the ANC, for the deaths and called for her to resign. He reiterated his call to Gauteng premier David Makhura to fire Mahlangu.

The death at the weekend brought to 39 the deaths of psychiatric patients relocated from Life Esidimeni, Bloom said.

“It is utterly shameless that she continues to deny accountability and is protected by Premier Makhura,” he said.

The spokesperson for the Gauteng department of health, Steve Mabona, appealed for patience ahead of the completion of the health ombudsman investigation.

African News Agency

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