Gauteng Health MEC Faces Axe After Patient Deaths Report

Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba

Gauteng Premier David Makhura needs to act quickly in firing Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu should the leaked findings of the Health Ombudsman’s report into the deaths of psychiatric patients be confirmed when it is released publicly tomorrow.

According to a report in the Sowetan today, Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba recommends that “The premier of the Gauteng province must, in light of the findings in this report, consider the suitability of MEC Qedani Dorothy Mahlangu to continue in her current role as MEC for health.”

Makgoba reportedly found that 71 patients had died after they were transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni to NGOs and other institutions. This figure is a lot higher than the 36 deaths Mahlangu revealed in September last year in response to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to the leaked report, 96% of the deaths occurred at incompetent and poorly resourced NGOs following “inadequate planning and a chaotic and ‘rushed or hurried’ implementation process.”

National Health Act and the Mental Health Care Act

Makgoba has reportedly further found that there was prima facie evidence of human rights violations by certain officials, certain NGOs and some activities including disregarding the constitution, National Health Act and the Mental Health Care Act.

It was abundantly clear from the start that the Health MEC had bungled the transfer of patients which led to avoidable deaths.

She should have resigned or been fired long ago for her inexcusable neglect.

I await the full details that will be revealed tomorrow by the Health Ombudsman, following which suitable action should be taken against all the implicated parties.



Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Gauteng Health MEC Forces Delays Of Report Into Patient Deaths

Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu

I am disappointed but not surprised that the release of the Health Ombudsman’s report into the deaths of psychiatric patients has been delayed because Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has requested extra time to respond to his findings.

Mahlangu was supposed to respond by last week on Friday 13 January, but on that day she requested a further extension of time.

She now has to reply by close of business on Tuesday 24 January 2017.

Gauteng Legislature

I expect that the findings of the report are devastating and that MEC Mahlangu and some senior officials could be held criminally liable.

It is important that there is accountability in this matter for the deaths that could have been prevented.

Mahlangu has refused to answer questions concerning the deaths in the Gauteng Legislature, which is typical of her general arrogance and contempt for the Legislature in this and other matters.

I hope that there are no further delaying tactics by the MEC and that the report is made public soon after her response to it.




Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Another Psychiatric Patient Dies in Gauteng

Another psychiatric patient who was transferred to an NGO in Gauteng has died, bringing the reported total to 39 deaths although there may be more.

According to a weekend report, Julian Pieterson from Newclare in western Johannesburg died last week at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital where he had been transferred from the NGO.

His family had visited him at the NGO in Pretoria where they described the conditions as “terrible”, with no proper medication and patients not well fed.

It is also significant that Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu revealed for the first time last week that her own brother was one of the psychiatric patients who died when he “got transferred illegally like all the other families”.

Speaking at Constitution Hill on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Bogopane-Zulu said: “As the government, we acknowledge upfront what happened in Gauteng was wrong, the intentions were good but the execution was a disaster, absolute disaster. Patients’ medical assessments were not done, the referrals were not properly done.”

This devastating indictment by the deputy minister adds to pressure on Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to resign or be fired by Premier David Makhura.

According to the Mahlangu Monitor at #MahlanguMustGo that I have set up on Twitter, it is now 90 DAYS that Mahlangu is still in office after admitting that 36 patients had died in response to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

It is utterly shameless that she continues to deny accountability and is protected by Premier Makhura.

I am confident that she will have to go once the Health Ombudsman completes his report which Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi must make public so that justice is seen to be done.



Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

Psychiatric Patient NGO Operating Illegally

Re Bafenyi Mental Health Institution

The Re Bafenyi Mental Health Institution, which is one of the NGOs looking after 47 psychiatric patients transferred earlier this year from Life Healthcare Esidimeni, is contravening a number of Tshwane municipal by-laws.

This is according to a report by the Tshwane Health and Social Development Department which investigated the NGO in Hennops River after complaints received by local DA Councillor Kingsley Wakelin that people living there were jumping the fences and disturbing the neighbourhood.

The social worker who visited Re Bafenyi on 2 November found mostly clean conditions for the 47 mental health patients who are all on anti-psychotic drugs and have a high level of functioning. The Centre was licensed on 1 April 2016 for 65 patients and is receiving R2700 subsidy per patient per month from the Gauteng Health Department.

Municipal By-laws

Re Bafenyi was found to have by-passed most of the Municipal by-laws as follows:

  • the plot is not zoned to accommodate Mental Health Patients (City Planning);
  • no signage reflecting the name of institution;
  • there is no Health certificate from the Municipal Environmental Health Practitioners;
  • the Emergency Department should also assess the centre and give their inputs on safety measures;
  • no waste management control, the waste is just exposed in an open space which is a health hazard for the patients and neighbours;
  • the plot has lots of stones which might also pose a risk to the patients themselves; and
  • the staff establishment requires the service of Occupational Therapist (Provincial role/ private) so as to stimulate the patients. They are just roaming around the yard.

The report recommends that ReBafenyi complies with the by-laws and that the “Provincial Health Department should only issue operating licence to institution which complies with the law of operating such institution because this involves human lives.”

Tshwane Council Report

I am concerned that this report shows yet another NGO set up in a rush to accommodate patients from Life Healthcare Esidimeni, and it is blatantly contravening municipal by-laws.

Christopher Mogwarane (56) was one of the patients transferred to Re Bafenyi from Esidimeni and died there, allegedly from natural causes. According to his brother Lucas, he was not happy at Re Bafenyi and he did not appear to be getting proper nutrition and medication.

I will be submitting the Tshwane Council report to the Health Ombudsman to consider as part of his investigation into the deaths of 37 psychiatric patients after the Gauteng Health Department cancelled the contact with Life Healthcare Esidimeni.



Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]

Gauteng Health MEC Still Not Fired After 50 Days


A significant milestone has been reached as it is now 50 days that Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu remains in her job, after she admitted that 36 psychiatric patients had died in unsuitable NGOs where they were sent after the cancellation of the contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni.

Mahlangu disclosed this information in an oral reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature on Tuesday 13 September.

I have been tracking the days on a Mahlangu Monitor at #MahlanguMustGo on my @JackBloomDA Twitter account.

It is relevant to note that it took 50 days for former Gauteng Local Government MEC Humphrey Mmemezi to resign after he was caught abusing his corporate credit card for private purchases.

Mahlangu is now passing the 50-day mark even though her dereliction of duty is far more serious than that of Mmemezi because people have died.

Unsuitable NGOs

More damning evidence has since come to light about the rushed transfer to unsuitable NGOs, despite warnings by mental health experts that their lives were being put in danger.

The death toll has risen to 37 and may be as high as 60 patients according to some sources.

Premier David Makhura’s image is taking a knock by his delay in firing his Health MEC who has lost all credibility because of her callous handling of the patients’ deaths.

He need not wait for the investigation by the Health Ombudsman, as it is abundantly clear that Mahlangu bears the prime responsibility for the deaths.

How many more days must we wait before she resigns in shame or is fired by Premier Makhura?


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

DA Supports Families Demanding Gauteng Health MEC Be Fired

Mahlangu Monitor

This morning I attending the gathering outside the Gauteng Health Department head office of families of relatives who died after being transferred to NGOs earlier this year.

I support their demand that Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu accept responsibility for these deaths and resign or be fired by Premier David Makhura.

According to the Mahlangu Monitor on my twitter at @JackBloomDA #MahlanguMustGo it is now 44 days since she admitted the deaths – and is still in office.

I am horrified at the claim made today that the real figure is 60 deaths rather than the 37 that have been publicly acknowledged by the Department.

Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgopa

MEC Mahlangu must answer the official question for written reply that I asked 6 weeks ago about the number of psychiatric patients who died at each NGO.

This question is more than two weeks overdue for reply.

As more facts come to light the situation looks worse and worse.

I have made a submission to the investigation by Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgopa, and I hope that he will uncover all the facts and make a finding that ensures accountability and justice in this tragic matter.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222