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02 February 2017


The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa), is shocked by the revelations of the Health Ombudman’s report into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 94 mentally ill patients in Gauteng.  Hospersa sends its condolences to the patients’ loved ones and calls for the MEC and all involved to face criminal charges.


The Health Ombudsman’s report revealed on Wednesday that the former Gauteng Health Member of the Executive Council (MEC), Qedani Dorothy Mahlangu, Head of Department (HOD), Dr Tiego Ephraim Selebano and Director, Dr Makgabo Manamela were to blame for poor judgement during decision-making processes.  This involved a decision to terminate the contract with Esidimeni Life whereby an estimated 1 371 chronic mentally ill patients were rapidly transferred to hospitals and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) all over the Gauteng province.  This was done at a mind-boggling rate of 457 patients per month during 2016, spanning a period of three months. 


The report criticises the scale and speed of the transfer where due diligence was not followed, labelling the project as one done with chaotic execution and no culture of primary health care community-based services framework and infrastructure.  The report further categorically states that all the patients who died in the 27 NGOs, died under unlawful circumstances.


“Hospersa sends its heartfelt and sincere condolences to the loved ones of the patients who passed away,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.  “Mentally ill persons are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and their suffering is often unseen and unheard.  They often live on the periphery of society and the way that they now paid the ultimate price for the poor management process of our government, is totally unacceptable,” Desfontaines said.


“Unfortunately poor management and poor decision-making has become endemic in the public service of late, and nowhere does it have a more human face than in public health,” said Desfontaines. 


It seems that processes were floundered in the appointment of 27 NGOs which are reported to have operated with invalid licenses.  It is also said that many of the persons working at said NGOs did not have the necessary qualifications – something which the Department should have thoroughly checked and monitored.


“Hospersa would suggest that the MEC and everyone implicated face criminal charges.  While her resignation was a good starting point, we can never allow that to absolve her from taking responsibility of people paying the ultimate price for maladministration,” Desfontaines concluded.



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For interviews please contact Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines – 083-321-4427.


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