Don't use Esidimeni deaths for political gains - Zuma

2017-02-16 15:16
President Jacob Zuma (Screen grab)

President Jacob Zuma (Screen grab)

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Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has warned opposition parties against using the deaths of more than 100 mentally ill patients in Gauteng last year for "political gains".

Zuma told Parliament during his State of the Nation reply on Thursday that the deaths of psychiatric patients, who were transferred to unlicensed NGOs, was a "painful" matter.

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"Let me extend again our deepest condolences to the families of psychiatric patients who died so tragically in Gauteng," Zuma told MPs.

"This matter is deeply painful to the country, and should not be used for political gains.

"Government will continue to support the families, and will ensure that the recommendations of the Health Ombudsperson are implemented."

'F*%k you' premier apologises

Before Zuma's speech began, North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo apologised in writing for saying "fuck you" to DA chief whip John Steenhuisen during Zuma's SONA speech last week, which was heard on live television.

Mahumapelo said the incident was off the record and was a result of the heated events of the night.

"I must say I regret having overreacted to the member, and I profusely and unreservedly apologise," Speaker Baleka Mbete read out on his behalf.

He also apologised for not being able to attend Zuma's reply.

Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu could be heard shouting: "You should have boxed him!"

DA calls for judicial inquiry

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane earlier on Thursday called for a judicial commission of inquiry into the Esidimeni deaths to establish exactly what happened.

Maimane said the "cruel, inhumane and degrading" deaths in Gauteng between April and June 2016 were a result of a "litany of judgement errors by the ANC government".

"Sadly, it could have been avoided, which is what makes it even more heart breaking," Maimane said.

"This will remain a stain on the conscience of government for a long time to come."

He has written to Zuma requesting that he establishes the inquiry, as allowed by section 84 of the Constitution.

He also said that if an inquiry was deemed necessary for the Marikana massacre in 2012, then it was also warranted in this case.

Read more on:    parliament  |  jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  sona 2017

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