Johannesburg, 27 October 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.
JOHANNESBURG – The DA in Gauteng expressed disappointment on Monday following the delay of the release of the report into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of mentally ill patients in the province.
This comes after Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu on Friday requested a further extension until Tuesday next week to provide her comments on the draft interim report into the deaths of the patients.
The report into the deaths by the Health Ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, was set to be released on Wednesday.
In a statement, Makgoba confirmed that the release of the report was delayed “until further notice”.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi commissioned the probe in September last year after Mahlangu disclosed the deaths in Gauteng.
At least 37 psychiatric patients died in NGOs where they had been transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni after the Gauteng Department of Health cancelled its contract with this company which was looking after about 2,000 patients.
DA’s Gauteng shadow MEC for health, Jack Bloom, said he expected the report to have adverse findings against Mahlangu.
“I am disappointed but not surprised that the release of the Health Ombudsman’s report into the deaths of psychiatric patients has been delayed because Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has requested extra time to respond to his findings,” Bloom said.
“I expect that the findings of the report are devastating and that MEC Mahlangu and some senior officials could be held criminally liable.”
Bloom said it was important that there was accountability in this matter for the deaths that could have been prevented.
“Mahlangu has refused to answer questions concerning the deaths in the Gauteng legislature, which is typical of her general arrogance and contempt for the legislature in this and other matters,” Bloom said.
“I hope that there are no further delaying tactics by the MEC and that the report is made public soon after her response to it.”