The United Nations Human Rights experts have condemned the Gauteng health department for transferring 37 psychiatric patients from Esidimeni facilities to various non-governmental organisations.
This comes after thirty-seven psychiatric patients that were transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni by the department earlier this year died while in the care of the NGOs.
The international experts expressed shock at the ‘flawed’ transfer and called on South African authorities to “establish a clear and sustainable deinstitutionalisation policy and plan of action to avoid another tragedy”
“We are extremely concerned about this situation and the seeming lack of conclusive investigations until now,” the experts said.
The experts further charged that South Africa is a party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities since 2015, “and must respect the obligation to provide access to persons with disabilities to a range of community support services and to prevent isolation and segregation from the community.”
The UN experts also enjoined South Africans to come up with the results of any judicial and other independent investigation as soon as possible and to explain what measures they have taken to prevent further casualties and protect the rights of those affected by this situation.
DA Gauteng shadow MEC for health Jack Bloom, who weighed in on the matter said the expert’s comment on the matter indicates how serious it is.
Bloom, however, expressed sadness with Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu’s refusal to throw more light on the incidence.
“…..But the Gauteng Health Department MEC refuses to give answers until the investigation’s report [is released]. It’s out of order. People want to know now what is being done to prevent further deaths,” Bloom lamented.
In September, Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was heavily criticised for allegedly causing the deaths of 36 psychiatric patients in the province.
The 36 psychiatric patients died in a period of about four months after they were moved to 122 NGOs in the province after the province terminated its long-running contract with Life Healthcare earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the National Department of Health is yet to announce the result of an investigation into the deaths of the patients.