The tragedy that has befallen the Gauteng Health Department raises disturbing questions regarding how the department conspired with non-government organisations (NGOs) in a scheme that ultimately resulted in the death of nearly 100 mentally ill patients.
The health ombudsman’s report on the matter lays the blame squarely on the politicians, particularly former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, who has subsequently resigned from her position. Mahlangu however maintains her innocence.
The issue is very complex. One side of the story is that the department sought to cut costs by terminating its relationship with Life Esidimeni hospital, which cared for those patients before they were moved to the NGOs. The report shows that the decision to remove patients from Life Esidimeni was not executed properly. The community based NGOs that received the patients were not ready to care for such patients.