Still no clarity on how Esidimeni patients died


Families of psychiatric patients who died after being transferred to NGOs from Life Esidimeni are holding a healing session on Saturday.

JOHANNESBURG - A social worker has testified at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings that her NGO was pressured to take in more patients than it could accommodate.

Mahlodi Ndhlovu says many of the patients were admitted without their medical records.

141 psychiatric patients died in Gauteng last year due to the negligence of the provincial health department.

Ndhlovu says the transfer of psychiatric patients from Life Esidimeni was done in haste and the move put pressure on staff members, but it was the patients who suffered the most.

WATCH: Social worker testifies at Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing

Ndhlovu worked at the Cullinan Rehabilitation and Care Centre, which received some of the patients from Life Esidimeni.

She says it was the first time the centre had received patients with psychosis and schizophrenia.

"According to our knowledge we were going to take the patients that meet our criteria, but to our surprise, we were forced to take more than what we expected. Our CEO said please, just come with whatever that they give to you," said Ndhlovu. 

This came at the cost of other mental care patients, who were forced out of the centre in order to accommodate the new patients.

READ: Life Esidimeni death toll continues to rise

Ndhlovu insists that the decision to move them came from a higher authority. 

"I can say it is not the normal way of discharging a patient… Judge it was indeed very painful to hear after two days that one patient had passed on," says Ndhlovu. 

Some patients were moved to NGOs that according to Ndhlovu didn't have medical doctors or nurses.

One family found out about the death of their loved one seven months after the fact.     

Ndhlovu was unable to say how the patients died.