JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Premier David Makhura reiterated his commitment to spend the remainder of his term in office ensuring restorative justice and healing for the families involved in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.
Makhura was speaking during the State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Monday.
“The decision to transfer Life Esidimeni mental health patients to NGOs was not made in consultation with the provincial executive council which I have the honour to lead. The executive council and I would have never approved a plan to outsource mental health, a primary responsibility of the state to take care of particularly the most vulnerable in our society.
“As the head of government in our province I am deeply aggrieved by the extent in which those responsible for this tragic and ill-fated transfer of patients to unlawfully operating NGOs have tried to hide the facts and information from me as the Premier, from the Minister of Health, as well as their determined effort to try and withhold the facts from the health ombudsman.
“Together with the Minister of Health and the newly appointed Health MEC, we are taking swift and decisive action to implement all the 18 recommendations of the health ombudsman,” said Makhura.
More than 100 mental health patients were moved from Esidimeni and placed in inadequate facilities. Gauteng MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned following the release of National Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba’s report.
Makhura said affected families have pleaded with government and politicians not to use the incident to score political points.
“The tragic death of mental health patients should be taken very seriously. Families made a special plea to all politicians and political parties that none of us should use this tragedy as a political football because when we do this as politicians, this prolongs their pain and anguish,” said Makhura.