Motsoaledi to brief MPs on Esidimeni Deaths

Cape Town - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is on Thursday expected to brief Parliament on the deaths of psychiatric patients transferred from Life Esidimeni clinics to NGOs in Gauteng.

Last Wednesday, health ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba said the death toll of patients who were transferred from Life Esidimeni's facilities to 27 unlicensed NGOs in Gauteng would continue to rise. Over 100 had died.

Makgoba told Parliament's portfolio committee on health that his office was continuing to receive data from the public since his report on the disastrous move was made public on February 1.

Makgoba said the 27 NGOs were under-resourced, under-financed and ill-equipped to take on the influx of psychiatric patients.

Some of the NGOs had three licences, signed in the same year by the same two people, he told MPs.

He said the data he received from the Gauteng health department was "full of problems" and "never the same".

"In one instance, 22 patients were recorded as having two dates of death. Now, you can't die twice. And the data always came from the same department.amp;"

Makgoba said 80 of the initial 94 deaths recorded occurred at five NGOs. NGOs only began seeking professional help once patients started dying.

The biggest problem was overcrowding, which defeated the purpose of Motsoaledi's policy to "de-institutionaliseamp;" the patients.

Some of the NGOs were mere double-storey houses, and the owners were approached to set up a NGO. They were under the impression it was a business venture, and not a professional health service.

The whole project was shambolic and chaotic. Human rights were violated, he said in his report. The national department could have been involved much sooner.

The public should be wary of blaming Life Esidimeni for the deaths, he said.

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