Malema’s party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) says it is “immensely saddened” by the confirmed reports about Gauteng psychiatric patient deaths.
As it happened, the Gauteng Health Department terminated its contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni, which cared for about two thousand patients, and, transferred majority of the patients to community based NGOs.
When the relatives of the patients opposed the relocation, Gauteng Health Department insisted that it was in the interest of the mentally ill patients. The plan was to move the patients from old-fashioned asylum-like institutions into community-based care, argued Gauteng Health Department.
Reports about the Gauteng psychiatric patient deaths first emerged in September 2016. Then, it was reported that 36 psychiatric patients died after they were relocated.
However, BuzzSouthAfrica exposed last month that not fewer than 80 psychiatric patients may have died after the contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni was terminated.
Now, it has been confirmed that 94, not 36 mentally ill patients died.
A report Health Ombudsman released yesterday, authenticated that 94 mentally ill patients in Gauteng died after the Province’s Health Department negligently moved them from the licensed Life Esidimeni private homes to 27 unlicensed facilities.
Reacting to the Ombudsman report, EFF asserted that it is worrisome that only one of the ninety-four patients died due to mental health related reasons.
“The confirmed ninety-three patients, whose number is still on the rise, died from negligence by the ANC Gauteng government and issues non-related to the condition they were initially admitted for.
“This occurrence was obtrusive because the Gauteng Department of Health failed to prioritize the patients’ lives all in the name of saving costs while furthering corruption sentiments.
“…These are not mere deaths, but a massacre of people in the hands of the government, worse in number than Marikana.” upheld the fighters.
With the above, EFF called for criminal charges to be instituted against the Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, all the people involved in government, and concerned NGOs.
“We call on Makhura’s government to all step down as this is direct consequence of their incompetence. Criminalizing Qedani Mahlangu alone, who served at the pleasure of the Premier is wrong. In full recognition of this massacre, Makhura must step down,” EFF charged.
The party thereafter, argued that the termination of the Life Esidimeni contract is suspicious. And, that the liaison of a government office with illegal institutions is gravely concerning.
“How can such an occurrence of so illegal proportions happen without the premier knowing? This demonstrates his very incompetence and mediocrity!
The lives of the late patients were essentially traded in to further the greed of politicians and illegal NGOs who would rather pretend to be saving money than to be saving lives of the people who solely depend on special care the government should be providing.”
Thus, EFF demanded for all the families of the lost ones to be fully compensated. But then, the party observed that “no currency on earth can ever compensate for the loss of lives.”
Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned before the Health Ombudsman report emerged. Nonetheless, the Fighters aren’t satisfied with her resignation.
They said: “if Qedani Mahlangu’s resignation is a sign that she genuinely regrets her actions, she must hand herself over to the nearest police station for murder and negligence. Otherwise, her resignation must be seen as avoiding the real responsibility of the massacre.
“The entire Gauteng ANC must hang their heads in shame for this massacre; they must step down if they genuinely mean the fact that they as government take full responsibility,” added EFF.