Life Esidimeni progress report to be handed over to Speaker

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cape Town – Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says he will soon give Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, a progress report on the implementation of the Life Esidimeni Ombudsman’s report.

The Minister said this when he tabled the department’s Budget Vote in Parliament on Tuesday.

This comes after the Ombudsman report, which was released in February, found that 94 mentally ill patients died after being removed from Life Healthcare Esidimeni to 27 NGOs.

In late 2016, Minister Motsoaledi requested the Health Ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of these patients amid a national outcry.

The report found that all the 27 NGOs to which the patients were transferred operated under invalid licences and all patients who died at these facilities died under unlawful circumstances.

Tabling the department’s Budget Vote debate on Tuesday, the Minister said the nation is still in mourning about the terrible events that took place at Life Esidimeni in Gauteng.

He said he will soon hand over a report to the Speaker's Office to outline progress made so far in implementing the 18 recommendations of the Health Ombud.

Giving highlights of the progress report, the Minister said the first recommendation was that the Gauteng Mental Health Marathon Project be de-established. He said this has already been done.

In relation to five recommendations that dealt with those who are fingered by the Ombud's report, the Minister said disciplinary processes have commenced according to the legal framework of the country.

He said on the recommendation for matters to be probed by SA Police Service and forensic investigators: “I can confirm that SAPS has started with investigations long ago.

“Yesterday, the National Prosecuting Authority asked for all the files to start preparing them for an inquest for each and every person who passed on and to decide who must be prosecuted.

“Recommendation nine on asking the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate human rights violations has been done on the 9th February and the SAHRC has commenced with their work,” he said.

He said the SAPS and NPA were processing a recommendation for legal proceedings to be instituted against NGOs that acted unlawfully.

“Recommendation 11 is about de-registering NGOs that do not meet the standard as well as closing them down and revoking licences.

“I can hereby report that the Ombud cited 27 NGOs in his report. We have relocated all the Life Esidimeni patients from 20 NGOs.

“There are seven NGOs where we did not relocate patients because some families have refused that their loved ones be relocated, and in some cases, patients themselves because they were extremely agitated and refused to get into ambulances during the relocation process,” he said.

The Minister said 14 of the 20 NGOs where patients were removed have been closed down and the remaining six remain open because they are conducting other business other than Life Esidimeni business.

“We will deal with them in due course as part of a routine operation.” –

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