Zuma offers condolences to families of 94 dead patients

2017-02-02 18:02
Virginia Machpelah, 50, was one of the 36 psychiatric patients who died after being transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni. (Supplied)

Virginia Machpelah, 50, was one of the 36 psychiatric patients who died after being transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni. (Supplied)

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Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday extended condolences to the families of 94 mentally ill patients, who died in Gauteng during cost-cutting measures.

Zuma thanked Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba for his report and investigation into the circumstances of the deaths.

He said this would help the government ensure that "such a tragedy does not recur in the health sector".

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi would brief Zuma on steps to be taken to ensure that the utmost care, support, empathy and expertise were made available to people requiring mental health care.

READ: Calls mount for Gauteng premier to resign over 94 deaths

The 94 deaths followed the transfer of the patients from the Life Esidimeni facility to several NGOs in 2016, as part of the provincial health department’s cost-cutting measures.

At least 94 of the patients died between March 23 and December 19 2016, Makgoba said on Wednesday.

At the same briefing, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said he had accepted Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu’s resignation.

The DA, Cope and ANC Youth League have all separately called for Makhura to step down in the wake of the deaths.

The EFF laid charges against Makhura and Mahlangu on Thursday morning. The ANCYL was expected to do the same later in the day.

READ: EFF lays 94 murder charges against Gauteng premier, former health MEC

The families of those who died were also considering legal action.

The government also offered its condolences on Thursday, saying it was deeply saddened by the tragic losses.

"We are confident that as a caring and transparent government, all relevant authorities will give the report and its recommendations the full attention they deserve," said Acting Director-General of Government Communication and Information System Donald Liphoko.

"We fully appreciate how deeply this issue has touched the lives of the families and friends affected and offer our very deepest condolences," said Liphoko.

Read more on:    da  |  eff  |  jacob zuma  |  healthcare
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