The Life Esidimeni Inquest in Pretoria will on Wednesday continue to cross-examine one of the key witnesses in the transfer of mental health patients, which led to the death of 144 of them.
On Tuesday, the inquest heard that there were challenges with the issuing of licences for NGOs, starting a snowball effect which led to patients being placed at wrong NGOs during the transfer process from the Life Esidimeni facilities.
Patients died of hunger, dehydration and neglect during the transfer when they were moved to ill-equipped and unregistered NGOs in June 2016. Rochelle Gordon, the nurse tasked with overseeing patient transfer said there was not enough space for all patients.
Gordon says, “The patients would be reshuffled again and be placed correctly. But there was not enough space for all these patients. For instance, Ubuhle Benkosi had a lot of psycho genetics patients and Tshwane did not have enough space for this type of patients, unfortunately.
The Life Esidimeni inquest was established to determine the cause of death for each of the 144 mental health care patients who died and to determine whether there were criminal acts or omissions involved.
According to reports, about 1 500 psychiatric patients were moved from Life Esidimeni facilities between March and June of 2016, and into the care of over 100 NGOs, psychiatric hospitals, and community care facilities.
The #LifeEsidimeniInquest into the deaths of 144 mental healthcare users who were moved from Life Esidimeni in 2016 begins 19 July 2021. #NeverAgain can a tragedy like this occur. We support the families of the deceased in remembering their loved ones and calling for justice. pic.twitter.com/HeNexK56ZT
— SECTION27 (@SECTION27news) July 15, 2021
The deaths of the patients came after a decision by the Gauteng Department of Health to transfer patients to ill-equipped NGOs in 2016, after the provincial Health Department had terminated its contract with Life Esidimeni. The department called transfer and placement of patients the Gauteng Mental Health Marathon Project.
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