The Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu is currently under fire; following allegations that she is responsible for the deaths of 36 psychiatric patients in the province.
The provincial health department confirmed that the patients died after they were recklessly transferred from the Life Healthcare Esidimeni Centre to the care of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
BuzzSouthAfrica gathered that the 36 psychiatric patients died in a period of about four months after they were moved to 122 NGOs in the province; following the termination of the province’s long-running contract with Life Healthcare earlier this year.
In reaction; MEC Qedani Mahlangu confirmed the deaths and disclosed that investigators are still waiting for medical files from the NGO centres.
“Also we’ll consider whether we’ll do a post-mortem and look at the results of that. But the bottom line, yes the patients died and our sincere condolences to the families. And any loss of life in any of our institutions is one too many,” she said.
MEC Qedani Mahlangu Under Investigation
Meanwhile, the National Department of Health has announced that an investigation into the deaths of the patients is currently underway; and is being dealt with as a matter of urgency.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) has also called on the department to come clean with investigation results. Sadag insisted that the provincial health department must present answers to the families of the deceased.
Speaking on behalf of the group; Cassey Chambers, said: “What went wrong? Have those families been notified that their loved ones have passed on? Is it okay just to give an apology?
“The information that we are getting is not just because they are dying from a chronic illness; they are dying from things that should have been avoided or prevented. These are concerns that have been brought forward to the department and to [Mahlangu] over the last few months.”
Appalled by the ugly incident; the Democratic Alliance’s Jack Bloom has called on Gauteng premier David Makhura to immediately suspend or dismiss MEC Mahlangu.
National Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi who weighed in on the matter said he has instructed the Health Ombudsman to investigate the deaths.