JOHANNESBURG – The Health Ombudsman released on Wednesday, the final report on the Life Esidimeni saga.
Thirty-six psychiatric patients died last year after being transferred to various non-governmental organisations when the Health Department terminated its contract with the Johannesburg facility.
The death toll was reported elsewhere to be as high as 80.
The families have always suspected there might be more deaths than those on record and speculation is rife that Wednesday’s report will confirm these suspicions.
The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths was commissioned last year.
One mother, Bertha Molefe, said she wanted to know why they had closed a care centre for the sick, while Christine Nxumalo wants to know where her loved one died.
Life Esidimeni had been contracted to the Gauteng government for nearly 40 years, but Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu terminated that contract, citing costs.
“We were paying too much for a patient," Mahlangu said. "We were paying close to R10,000 per patient and we could not sustain paying that amount."
The families wanted Mahlangu fired over her handling of the matter.
They had refused an offer of a meeting with the MEC, Gauteng Health Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said.