Life Esidimeni post-mortem reports still outstanding

2018-04-09 13:11
Family members of patients who died after being moved from Life Esidimeni to inadequate facilities. PHOTO: Gallo Images / The Times / Alaister Russell

Family members of patients who died after being moved from Life Esidimeni to inadequate facilities. PHOTO: Gallo Images / The Times / Alaister Russell

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Gauteng community safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane has revealed that four out of the 46 Life Esidimeni inquest cases have not been finalised as the provincial department of health has failed to provide post-mortem reports and hospital records.

Nkosi-Malobane shed light on the matter in a written reply to questions posed by the DA's Jack Bloom in the Gauteng legislature.

"These are the responses from the police. No reports have been made available, we are still waiting for the department of health," Nkosi-Malobane told News24.

Bloom expressed his dissatisfaction with Nkosi-Malobane's response.

"I am disappointed that some post-mortem reports are still not completed and that missing hospital records are delaying the police investigation," said Bloom.

A total of 144 cases of death are being investigated and the National Prosecuting Authority "is currently in the process of formulating charges".

Bloom bemoaned the fact that there were no inquests for 98 of the 144 recorded deaths.

Read: Life Esidimeni death toll may be higher – DA's Jack Bloom raises alarm on missing patients

"It is vital that all available evidence is speedily collected so that charges are laid against all those implicated in the deaths, as well as other charges, including contraventions of the Mental Health Act and complicity in issuing fraudulent licences to NGOs," he said.

No complaints from some families

Nkosi-Malobane said that this may be "a question of communicating with the families of the deceased".

"Remember, when you open an inquest it is because the family steps forward, because they suspect foul play," said Nkosi-Malobane.

"The police required that families register their complaints, but not all families submitted a complaint. Where the next of kin did not want to exhume the body or did not lay a complaint – it was difficult to do a post-mortem," she said.

"Once the post-mortems are completed we will receive a preliminary report. No reports are yet available, and we are waiting for the department of health."

At least 144 psychiatric patients died after the Gauteng department of health moved 1 700 mentally ill people from Life Esidimeni homes into ill-equipped NGOs and state facilities in 2016.

In the release of his arbitration report last month, retired judge Dikgang Moseneke slammed government, particularly former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, former Gauteng health department head Barney Selebano and former Gauteng director of mental health Dr Makgabo Manamela, for the manner in which they handled the project.

Moseneke gave the government three months to compensate the families of those who died in the tragedy. 

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Read more on:    life esidimeni  |  jack bloom  |  johannesburg  |  health

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