I dip my head in shame – Makhura on Life Esidimeni tragedy

2018-02-26 12:19
Gauteng Premier David Makhura at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Gauteng Premier David Makhura at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Johannesburg – Gauteng Premier David Makhura has apologised for the Life Esidimeni tragedy that happened under his watch and left 144 psychiatric patients dead. 

"I dip my head in shame and once more apologise that this happened under my watch and I am totally committed to taking corrective and remedial action to ensure that this never happens again," said Makhura.

Speaking at the State of the Province Address, Makhura said the deaths, which occurred after patients were moved from Life Esidimeni to several NGOs, some of which were not registered, exposed deep institutional problems within the country's public health system and public service in general.

READ: Life Esidimeni project was chaotic, badly managed - Ramokgopa

"It cannot be business as usual," said Makhura.

He said serious government failures had compromised the quality of care for millions of people who depend on the public health system.

"The people of Gauteng, I would like to reiterate that the deaths of 144 Life Esidimeni mental health patients is a tragedy that has left deep wounds and pain in the collective memory of our democratic nation. It is something that should have never happened and should never happen again.

"The Gauteng provincial government had budgeted enough money for mental healthcare services. I would like to reiterate that the transfer of mental healthcare patients to ill-equipped and unlawfully operating NGOs was never approved by myself or the Gauteng executive council."

Corrective and remedial action to be taken

Makhura said he would take full responsibility for the tragedy.

"As the head of government in the province I have taken full responsibility and accountability for this tragic loss of life of our fellow citizens. I cannot pass the buck. I am the premier of this province. The buck stops with me. I take responsibility for anything that goes wrong in the administration I lead. I must face the people and fix the problem."

He said he had made a commitment to work with the families to ensure that those who are criminally liable are prosecuted.

"We keenly await the outcomes of the alternative dispute resolution process led by retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke.

"I am absolutely determined to speedily implement the outcomes of the ADR [alternative dispute resolution] process in order to ensure redress, justice and closure for the affected families.

"After consultation with the family committee, I will appoint an independent curator who will ensure that all the decisions of retired deputy chief justice Moseneke are implemented."

Makhura said a caring nation was one that took good care of its most vulnerable citizens.

"In April this year I will appoint a panel of experts and civil society representatives who will review our work in caring for the most vulnerable in society – people with mental illness, the elderly, people with disabilities and children," said Makhura.

Read more on:    life esidimeni  |  david makhura  |  johannesburg  |  health

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