Four lives lost at Kairos Centre, yet no one is held accountable putting more mentally impaired patients at risk

Today, I laid criminal charges against the Kairos Centre for negligent conduct at the Cullinan Police Station in Tshwane.

Four lives have been lost at the Kairos Centre in two months under very questionable circumstances and there are claims that patients with special needs are being neglected, with no proper regular monitoring of whether they are taking their medication.

The first incident was the unfortunate death of Shane Jordaan (30), followed by the two other mentally ill patients at the Kairos Centre. Jordaan, a mentally ill patient, went missing from the centre on 4th June and his body was later found dumped in a ditch close to Cullinan.

The recent incident is the tragic death of a female patient who committed suicide at this centre. A woman who decided that life was not worth living ended her life while everyone else was having their lunch. Where were the caregivers during that time and why did they not notice that she was not present at the dining hall during lunch?

This is evident that patients at this centre are being neglected while such patients with special needs are supposed to be constantly monitored to ensure that they do not endanger themselves and others around them.

Furthermore, during a search for Jordaan, they found 20kg of discarded medication inside a black plastic container right next to the centre. According to the information from the Kairos Centre management, Jordaan climbed over a 6-foot wire fence to escape from the centre – a clear indication there is a lack of security and proper observation of all patients at this centre.

The Gauteng Department of Health has failed dismally to conduct proper regular monitoring and evaluation of this centre that they fund. Instead of ensuring that vulnerable people are taken care of and that they receive the best care that they deserve, it chooses to side with the centre.

The DA has been reliably informed that the Gauteng Department of Health will be conducting an inspection at the centre on Friday and all centre staff members are on standby to clean, paint the walls and wash patient’s clothes to ensure that the centre is presentable for this event.

Photos of the cleaning can be accessed here, here, here and here

It is for this reason that Kairos Centre needs to be investigated for negligence towards their patients.

While the Department might be fooled by the management of the centre, will not fall for any cheap stunts; we will ensure that negligence at this centre is exposed and that no stone is left unturned.

It is now in the hands of the South African Police Service to ensure that investigation is conducted and those implicated are held to account to the fullest extent of the law.

The DA will continue to hound the Gauteng MEC for Health, Nomathemba Mokgethi to ensure that a complete investigation is conducted into the role of the department’s officials and that accuracy is reflected in their evaluation reports. The City of Tshwane is in desperate need of centres such as Kairos and we cannot afford to close it down but to ensure that all services are provided in a clean and healthy environment with monthly audits that can be trusted.

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Esidimeni inquest should ensure full accountability for deaths, including Qedani Mahlangu

The inquest into the 144 Life Esidimeni deaths which begins tomorrow (19 July) should seek full accountability for those responsible, including former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.

I hope that all relevant witnesses give evidence which can lead to criminal charges against those who caused the deaths.

While direct culpability lies with people in the NGOs where the mental health patients died, Mahlangu and senior health department officials should not be let off the hook for their role in this tragedy.

Further charges should include contraventions of the Mental Health Act and the fraudulent licensing of the NGOs where the patients were sent.

The evidence should also lead to charges for the maltreatment of those patients who survived.

It is essential that there are no further delays in achieving justice for the relatives of those who died five years ago.

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Echoes of Life Esidimeni after missing Kairos Centre patient found dead: MEC in denial

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is heartbroken to learn about the unfortunate death of Shane Jordaan (30) and two other mentally ill patients of the Kairos Centre in Cullinan, Tshwane.

Jordaan, a mentally impaired patient, went missing from the Kairos Centre on 4th June under very questionable circumstances. His body was later found dumped in a ditch close to Cullinan.

According to the information from the Kairos Centre management, he climbed over a 6-foot wire fence to escape from the centre – a clear indication that a lack of security and proper observation of all patients provided the opportunity for Shane Jordaan to disappear.

The DA has been reliably informed that Jordaan is the third patient from this centre that has died in a space of one month, yet the Gauteng MEC for Health, Nomathemba Mokgethi is defending the centre, claiming that it is well maintained with a homely atmosphere.

The MEC states that her department had regular visits to Kairos to inspect the premises and they were happy with the conditions shown to them. The department also claims that Jordaan’s family has not visited him for at least seven years which is incorrect according to Jordaan’s mother.

The disappearance and eventual discovery of Jordaan’s body, more than a month after he disappeared and the death of other two mentally ill patients brings up memories of the Life Esidimeni tragedy, where 144 patients died due to the provincial Department of Health’s negligence.

Provincial departments who fund institutions to look after mentally ill patients are responsible for ensuring that these facilities are regularly scrutinised so that parents and families can sleep without distress, knowing their loved ones are receiving the best possible care.

The Health Department has a responsibility to conduct regular monitoring and evaluation of all the centres that are funded by the state to ensure that vulnerable people are taken care of and receive the best care that they deserve. It is evident that they have failed miserably in this regard, with patients not being given the treatment and care they are entitled to.

The DA will continue to hound MEC Mokgethi to ensure a completely open and transparent investigation is conducted on what caused the death of three mentally ill patients at this centre. This is not a matter that the DA will allow to be swept under the rug, and the department will need to come clean about the apparent negligence on their part.

Further to this, the DA will be laying criminal charges against Kairos Centre for negligent conduct at the Cullinan Police Station. We also demand to know the cause of death of all three patients and should it be found that there were elements of neglect and negligence, those responsible should face severe consequences of their irresponsible actions.

DA welcomes inquest date for Esidimeni deaths

The Democratic Alliance welcomes the inquest date of 19 July 2021 that has finally been set to consider the 144 deaths in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

This was determined yesterday by Judge Mmonoa Teffo in a meeting with the National Prosecuting Authority, family representatives and NGOs.

It is important that there are no more delays as it is nearly five years since the mental patients were transferred to unsuitable and illegally registered NGOs where the deaths occurred.

I hope that criminal charges will follow the outcome of this joint inquest so that all those implicated in the deaths are brought to justice.

It should also not be forgotten that many of the surviving patients suffered abuse, and charges should be laid in this connection as well.

Mystery of eight missing Life Esidimeni patients

The mystery about eight Life Esidimeni patients who are missing continues to be of concern as the Gauteng Health Department still cannot trace them.

According to a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, there are no files for four of the eight missing patients.

The Department has made extensive efforts to find the patients, including checks with Home Affairs and SASSA to see if they had applied for IDs or received a disability grant. In some cases there are no ID numbers or dates of birth.

Missing person cases have been opened with the South African Police Service, and the Department is continuously checking for the patients in all facilities in case new information emerges.

Mokgethi says that search efforts are continuing but “it is difficult and time consuming to trace patients if information of the patients is not provided or available.” Furthermore, the telephone numbers of family members and home addresses provided are incorrect.

It is nearly five years since the transfers of patients from Life Esidimeni to illegal NGOs in June 2016, so it is unlikely that any of the missing patients are still alive.

The terrible possibility is that some of the missing patients died at the NGOs, but we will never know as their bodies may have been secretly disposed of.

There have been 144 confirmed deaths, but the true Esidimeni death toll should probably include the eight patients whose fate is currently unknown.

Judge appointed for Esidimeni inquest but no date as yet

 A judge has been appointed to preside over the inquest into 144 deaths of mental health patients, but no date has been set as this is yet to be determined by the Director of Public Prosecutions. 

This has been revealed by Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

 According to Mazibuko:

“The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development directed that a joint formal inquest must be held in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. The Judge President appointed a judge for the inquest. All evidential material was put at her disposal. A date for the inquest must still be determined.”

I welcome the appointment of a judge in this matter, but more progress needs to be made to ensure justice for the victims.

This case has dragged on for nearly five years since the deaths of the mental patients. I hope a date for the inquest is set soon so charges can be brought against the perpetrators and they are punished by the court. 


81 Esidimeni claimants still not paid out

Only R6.5 million (5%) of the R120 million budget for compensation to Life Esidimeni victims and their families has been paid out so far this year, and 81 verified claimants have not been paid at all.

This was revealed last week on Thursday in a presentation by the Premier’s Office at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature (OCPOL).

According to the Premier’s Office, the underspending is due to lockdown restrictions which resulted in delays in the verification process of claimants.

There were 451 claims received, of which 352 were verified, but 81 of these claimants have still not been paid.

Gauteng Director-General Phindile Baleni says that the remainder of the R120 million budget will be spent in December and January when the trust is set up by the Master of the Court for the 50% of the payout that is earmarked for the patients. The other 50% is supposed to go to the families of the patients.

A complicating factor is that aggrieved family members are going to court next week to ensure that their own lawyers administer the trust as they mistrust the lawyers that the provincial government will appoint.

It’s a sad situation that there are still unresolved compensation issues in this tragic matter in which so many people suffered because of government neglect.


DA welcomes another court order for NGO to pay back Esidimeni money

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the recent court order for the Precious Angels NGO to pay R681 112 to the Gauteng Health Department for irregular payment claims for Life Esidimeni patients.

This follows the court rulings in August that two other NGOs involved in Life Esidimeni, Anchor Centre and the Dorothy Evangeline Franks facility, payback R663 275 to the Gauteng Department of Health.

I commend the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for achieving at least some accountability for the 144 mental health patients who died in terrible circumstances in unsuitable NGOs.

It is far more important, however, that criminal charges are pursued as 23 of the 58 psychiatric patients transferred from Life Esidimeni to the Precious Angels NGO died in terrible circumstances according to the Health Ombudsman’s report.

I doubt whether the NGOs will even pay back all the money as they will probably be liquidated beforehand.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) needs to speed up the formal inquest they have promised into the 144 deaths to be presided over by a North Gauteng High Court Judge.

Justice needs to be seen to be done against all the perpetrators, who should face a range of charges including murder, culpable homicide, fraud and contraventions of the Mental Health Act.

The Provincial Government should also use the Apportionment of Damages Act to ensure that former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and her top officials pay from their own pockets towards the more than R300 million paid out to Esidimeni victims.


GP Premier’s Office exceeds budget by 102% due to Life Esidimeni payments

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is shocked to learn that the Office of the Premier (OOP) incurred unauthorised expenditure of R5.9 million.

This information is contained in the annual report for the OOP for the 2018/2019 financial year.

According to the report, the OOP reported unauthorised expenditure of R5,9 million under Programme 1, which resulted in the programme over spending on its allocated budget of R294,9 million.

The OOP says the unauthorised expenditure was due to payments made to the Life Esidimeni claimants. The verification process was only finalised towards the end of the financial year.

According to the department they committed to prioritise the Life Esidimeni payments and the claims were then processed for payment during 2018/2019 financial year.

However, there should have been a better plan in place to ensure that unauthorised expenditure did not occur in the OOP.

The DA will be tabling questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to ascertain why they did not have the payments made in the new financial year and if Gauteng Provincial Treasury did not set aside any money for the claims to be paid.

DA welcomes expanded SIU investigation into Life Esidimeni

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s proclamation to broaden the terms of reference of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into the Gauteng Health Department’s Life Healthcare Esidimeni contract and 28 entities where mental health patients were sent.

I am concerned, however, that we could have endless investigation instead of prosecutions that convict guilty people in court.

We need to know how the SIU is coordinating with the police investigation which is slow and under-resourced.

Proper expertise and resources are needed to ensure a speedy conclusion to investigations so that all those implicated in the Esidimeni tragedy are punished.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier David Makhura should take legal steps to force former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and former senior health officials to pay from their own money the multi-million rand compensation payout to Esidimeni victims.

According to the Apportionment of Damages Act, a party that has been found liable in a civil claim, and has paid this claim in full, can act to recover from those who were also allegedly liable to recover a contribution for their fair share of what has been paid.

I have repeatedly asked Makhura to do this, but it seems that he is still protecting Mahlangu in this matter.

Justice must prevail, and those who have blood on their hands must be held accountable.