Life Esidimeni: Social worker insists patients were looked after

2017-10-16 22:05
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing at Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown. (File, Gallo Images)

Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing at Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown. (File, Gallo Images)

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WATCH LIVE: Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing, day 6

2017-10-16 10:34

The number of patients who have died following the Gauteng health department’s decision to move mentally ill Life Esidimeni patients to a number of unlicensed NGOs, has risen to 141. Watch as day six of the hearing gets under way on Monday. WATCH

Johannesburg – A social worker at the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre has insisted patients were well looked after, despite the health ombudsman writing in October 2015 that there was a need for urgent intervention.

Daphney Ndhlovu, a social worker at the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre (CCRC), testified at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings on Monday that patients were sufficiently fed and received their medication, despite complaints from family members of patients that they weren't cared for.

READ: Family learns of man's death, more than 6 months later

CCRC, and Siyabadinga and Anchor – two unlicensed NGOs based on the same premises – were where a significant number of Life Esidimeni patients died after the Gauteng health department's failed move to transfer patients to other institutions.

"There was food. There was water for the patients," Ndhlovu said earlier.

Last week, the alternative dispute resolution hearing into the deaths of the Life Esidimeni patients heard the number of patients who had died rose from the initial 118 to 141 at the end of September, with another 59 patients still unaccounted for.

The health ombudsman wrote in October last year that "some patients were simply wasting away and some are reported to be staring death in the eye in front of their relatives".

'Well looked after'

Ndhlovu, however, insisted that patients were cared for.

"I can confirm that they were well looked after at CCRC… Regarding food, we didn’t experience any shortages of food at the institution," said Ndhlovu.

"They change the linen on the beds three times a day," she said, with family members at the hearing shaking their heads and murmuring in disagreement.

During cross-examination, advocate Dirk Groenewald, who was representing the families of three patients who were moved from CCRC to accommodate patients from Life Esidimeni, told Ndhlovu that Siyabadinga survived on the goodwill of the community as they had provided the facility with food and even fridges.

Ndhlovu was again met with heckling and jeers from the family members in attendance when she said some patients were just dumped at CCRC and other similar facilities. 

She said staff at the facility regarded it as normal if patients received a visit from their family members once a month – a bonus if they visited twice.

Ndhlovu is expected to finish her testimony on Tuesday.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  life esidimeni

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