Sumary of South Africa: Life Esidimeni Repeatedly Warned Health Department, Inquest Hears:
- The inquest will determine if officials are criminally liable for the deaths of 144 mental healthcare patients after they were moved from Life Esidimeni to smaller NGOs.
- Mkhatshwa said he was informed that the contract between Life Esidimeni and the Department would be terminated due to costs by former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, Dr Barney Selebano (former head of Gauteng Provincial Department of Health), and Dr Makgapo Manamela (former director of mental health for GPDoH).
- Mkhatshwa called for a meeting with Manamela and the mental health directorate in 2015 to discuss the way forward but was not presented with a clear plan.
- “Life Esidimeni raised concerns of the haphazard way by which this process was conducted and that it may result in disastrous consequences.
- Gauteng Health Department officials assured Life Esidimeni that the mental healthcare users will be placed in facilities of similar standards or better,” he said.
- When Life Esidimeni was notified that its contract would be terminated, the company alerted the families of the patients.
- In November 2015, during a meeting with the GPDoH and family representatives, Mkhatshwa said the families were upset with the Department for not consulting with them before embarking on the process.
- “The families expressed their anger over the fact that they were not told where their loved ones were going to be placed so that they can visit and inspect the NGO facilities to see if they are of the same standard as the Life Esidimeni was,” he said.