Life Esidimeni: Police investigation puts death toll at 144 patients

2018-01-26 19:11
Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

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Johannesburg – The Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing has heard that a police investigation has put at 144 the number of mentally ill patients who died during and after the Gauteng health department's marathon project to move patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to various NGOs, an increase from the last recorded figure of 143.

Evidence leader Patrick Ngutshana read out a report from the investigation team which suggests there was total of 45 inquest dockets and 99 enquiry files.

Ngutshana revealed this on Friday in Parktown, Johannesburg. "Enquiry files were registered for bodies that were already buried when the investigation team was established.

READ: Life Esidimeni: Mahlangu has not brought closure to affected families, says lawyer

The investigation of these inquest dockets and files is at an advanced stage.

"However, during the arbitration proceedings, the investigation team established from testimony of certain witness information that will necessitate the registering of other criminal offences," he said.

Meanwhile, a healthcare practitioner specialising as a psychiatrist, Professor Christoffel Grobler, was called to testify on Friday morning.

'One does not need to be a prophet'

Grobler told the arbitration hearing that patients had to be consulted before being moved.

"They did not consult them. It does not make sense to say they thought it through," he said.

"It doesn't take an expert to have known that there was some sort of risk involved at those facilities (NGOs)," he said.

Grobler said the families needed to be informed first before any transfers or any major procedures that involved patients were conducted.

READ: I am not a prophet, says Mahlangu

He added that families should never be excluded from decisions taken about patients.

"One does not need to be an expert nor a prophet to know that there was going to be drama with the moving of the patients."

On Thursday, former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu told the arbitration hearing that she was not a "prophet", and therefore, could not have anticipated the deaths of the psychiatric patients.

"It was not intentional. If I had foresight like a prophet, maybe I would have seen, but I am not a prophet. I do not even know what will happen tomorrow," she said. The hearing continues on Tuesday.

Read more on:    life esidimeni  |  qedani mahlangu  |  health

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