Premier’s role in Esidimeni deaths must be probed

Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s role in the transfer of Esidimeni mental health patients that led to 141 deaths must be probed following new evidence that he did know about the moving of the patients to NGOs.

Former mental health review board director Dumi Masondo said on Friday last week at the Esidimeni arbitration hearings that Makhura had attended meetings on the move of the patients.

This flatly contradicts Makhura’s claim that he did not know that the patients were sent to NGOs but were going to other state health facilities.

Masondo also said that former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was instructed to end the Life Esidimeni contract by people above her. She was testifying under oath so her accusations must be taken seriously.

Other evidence that implicates Makhura includes the claim by Dr Barney Selebano, the Head of the Gauteng Health Department, that the “decision to start deinstitutionalization of mental health care users from LE was undertaken in the Office of the Premier of Gauteng, the Honourable David Makhura, together with the HOD” (page 30 of the Ombudsman’s report).

Makhura is due to testify at the hearings along with Selebano and former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu whose whereabouts is still in doubt according to a report today that she is not a student at the London School of Economics as previously reported.

The ANC Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee has admitted that they gave her leave of absence to study in the UK, so they can be contacted to get her address.

I am encouraged by Judge Dikgang Moseneke’s assurance that the hearings will not conclude without the appearance of all key players.

They should face tough questioning so that we finally get the truth about the Esidimeni tragedy.