Calls mount for Gauteng premier to resign over 94 deaths

2017-02-02 12:40
David Makhura (File, Netwerk24)

David Makhura (File, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - The DA, Cope and ANC Youth League have all separately called for Gauteng Premier David Makhura to step down after at least 94 mentally ill patients died in the province during cost-cutting measures.

The EFF laid charges against Makhura and former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu on Thursday morning. The ANCYL was expected to do the same later in the day.

The families of those who died were also considering legal action.

DA MPL Jack Bloom said Makhura could not escape accountability for the "horrifying deaths".

"He should have acted decisively when it was first disclosed on September 13 last year that 36 patients had died in unsuitable NGOs after they were transferred there from Life Healthcare Esidimeni facility," Bloom said.

There was enough evidence that things had gone disastrously wrong. There had been many reports in the media, two court cases, and demonstrations by the relatives of the deceased patients, according to Bloom.

'The buck stops with Zuma'

The Gauteng ANCYL said Makhura’s administration had presided over the "cruel and untimely deaths". It gave him 14 days to resign, failing which its members would occupy his office.

Cope said President Jacob Zuma and his entire government had to be fired. Zuma, Makhura and Qedani Mahlangu had to be prosecuted on charges of culpable homicide.

"The buck stops with Zuma," the party said.

The Treatment Action Campaign said Mahlangu should have been dismissed, or at least suspended, months ago, given that sufficient evidence of the tragedy was already public knowledge.

"We do not consider Mahlangu’s resignation to provide sufficient accountability for the lives lost, due to her gross mismanagement of mental healthcare in Gauteng. She must face criminal charges."

Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe told News24 on Thursday that the report made no recommendations about criminal charges.

"Anyone has a right to lay charges, we can't stop them. We are confident authorities will look at the merits."

Died of thirst, hunger and cold

Masebe said Makhura had apologised and accepted "political accountability" on behalf of the provincial government.

"His primary aim right now is to act according to the recommendations in the report," Masebe said.

The patients died of thirst, hunger and cold, after being transferred from the Life Esidimeni facility in Randfontein, on the West Rand, to numerous NGOs after the department cancelled its contract as part of cost-cutting measures.

Life Esidimeni looked after about 2 000 patients and was funded by the department.

In September, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi appointed Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba to investigate the transfers, after it was revealed that at least 36 people had died in the new facilities.

Both Makhura and Motsoaledi on Wednesday expressed their anger and frustration that the department had not been forthcoming with information surrounding the deaths, and that it had taken an investigation by Makgoba to reveal the facts.

Read more on:    qedani mahlangu  |  david makhura  |  johannesburg  |  health

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