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

Gauteng Health MEC Should Resign Over Patient Deaths

Lifehealthcare Esidimeni

Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu should resign over the deaths of 36 psychiatric patients at the unsuitable NGOs in which they were placed after being discharged from Lifehealthcare Esidimeni.

She persisted in cancelling the long-running contract with Lifehealthcare earlier this year despite warnings that more time was needed to find suitable alternative facilities.

Her disclosure that patients were sent to NGOs without clinical files that included their medical histories shows how reckless these transfers were in putting patients at risk.

Last year she said that NGOs would accommodate 591 patients and 1193 patients would be placed at the Weskoppies, Sterkfontein, Tshwane District and Cullinan Care hospitals, as well as refurbished parts of the Transvaal Memorial Institution (TMI), Pinnar and Old Germiston Hospital.

The promised refurbishment of TMI, Pinnar and Old Germiston Hospital did not happen, and 1002 patients were placed with NGOs, which was far higher than the number originally announced.

36 Patients had Died

Despite protests and complaints by relatives about the poor facilities at many NGOs, Mahlangu claimed that they had been properly vetted and were monitored to ensure good care.

It was only after I asked an official question in the Gauteng Legislature that she revealed the bombshell news that 36 patients had died in the NGOs in a period of about four months.

We do not know at this stage how many patients died at which facility, but there is evidence that at least 7 patients died at Precious Angels in Attridgeville.

Mrs Christine Nxumalo was phoned by Ethel Ncube of Precious Angels on 25 August last year and told that her 50-year-old sister Virginia Machpelah had died on 17 August. She was not even aware that her sister was at this NGO as she was supposed to be at the Cullinan Care Hospital, but was then transferred to Precious Angels.

Nxumalo found her sister’s body at a private undertaker and was told there were six other bodies from Precious Angels. Her sister suffered from Alzheimer’s but was in good condition when she was at Lifehealthcare. Nxumalo has requested an inquest into her sister’s death and a postmortem has been carried out on the body, the results of which are awaited. Nxumalo has also requested the police to do postmortems on the other bodies from Precious Angels.

Postmortems on All Patients

According to Nxumalo, Precious Angels was only registered as a NGO on 9 June this year. With great difficulty she found the house in Atteridgeville where medics had picked up her sister’s body. She found a house with some hospital beds outside, but was refused access by a woman at the door.

According to an official reply to my questions earlier this year, 35 patients were sent to Precious Angels. MEC Mahlangu has now indicated that all the patients from Precious Angels have been transferred to psychiatric hospitals. Other NGOs where patients have been removed include Bokang where 24 were originally placed, and Siyabathanda where 13 were placed (these NGOs are both in Braamfischerville).

Mrs Nxumalo’s information about Precious Angels is highly disturbing. It does not appear that the Gauteng Health Department is doing a proper investigation of the deaths at this fishy NGO as Nxumalo is the one who has been pushing for postmortems on all the patients who died there.

National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi

I welcome the announcement by National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi that the Health Ombudsman will investigate the deaths at the NGOs. This investigation needs to be done speedily and professionally to ensure than no evidence is lost.

My view is that nearly all the 36 patients that have died in the last four months would probably still be alive if they were kept at Lifehealthcare Esidimeni.

The ultimate blame falls on MEC Mahlangu who failed to take sufficient steps to ensure the orderly transfer of patients to reputable NGOs. She should resign or be fired by Premier David Makhura.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Concerns Remain About Botched Psychiatric Transfers In Gauteng

Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu

Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu had a press conference yesterday to allay concerns about the transfer of hundreds of psychiatric patients to NGOs, but concerns remain about the quality of care that they receive.

Mahlangu dodged the toughest questions by barring relatives of patients, Section 27 lawyers and the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) from the conference. If she has nothing to hide, why were they not allowed to ask questions?

Last year, Mahlangu said that 591 long-term psychiatric patients formerly cared for by Life Healthcare Esidimeni would be placed in NGOs, and others in a variety of state institutions and renovated facilities including the old Germiston Hospital, Pinnar and Transvaal Memorial Institute.

Poor Medical Attention

None of the promised renovations to the named facilities occurred, and 1 002 patients were placed with 25 NGOs, almost double the number originally announced.

Complaints have poured in about poor conditions at some of these NGOs, including poor medical attention and living conditions and lack of food.

Life Healthcare

Mahlangu has confirmed that some NGOs were not suitable, like Bokang Home Care Centre, where 23 patients were removed, but problems remain at other NGOs.

It is clear that the transfer of patients from Life Healthcare to NGOs was botched in many instances.

MEC Mahlangu should not arrogantly dismiss the concerns raised by relatives, SADAG and Section 27. Problems remain and need to be addressed urgently for many vulnerable patients who are being treated badly.


Media enquiries: 

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Johannesburg Cannot Afford R15,6 Billion Write-Off

R15,6 billion Worth of Debt

The DA is deeply concerned over the City of Johannesburg’s decision to write off more than R15,6 billion worth of debt, when a large proportion of that debt could have been collected.

Failure to collect billions owing to the City is a failure of governance, and shows weak financial controls.

The fact that some debt to be written off includes national and provincial government departments, is a slap in the face to poor residents of Johannesburg who now face R15,6 billion less in the service delivery coffers.

For some residential debt, prepaid meter installation is a good remedy for long standing default, but it is completely unacceptable that commercial and government debts are written off in the same fell swoop.

Written Off Revenue

The poorest of the poor suffer the most when a City fails to fulfil its statutory duty to protect its income stream.

The written off revenue could have been invested in more houses, clinics, schools and vital infrastructure – bring much needed relief – instead commercial and government debtors are getting off scot-free.

Where the DA governs in Cape Town and other municipalities, we pursue a compassionate indigent policy to provide relief to the poor – giving them access to free basic services while reducing the burden of property rates for those who are homeowners.

DA in Cape Town

In Cape Town the DA provides the most comprehensive of basket of free basic services of any municipality in South Africa.

The relief, extended by the DA, benefits senior citizens, organisations providing social services such as children’s homes, old age homes and NGOs.

It is vital that Mayor Parks Tau and city officials account for their failure to collect this debt.


Media enquiries:

Willie Venter

Director: Communications and Research

060 963 8260

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DA Supports Relatives Of Psychiatric Patients

Life Healthcare Esidimeni

The Democratic Alliance supports the protest march today in central Johannesburg by relatives of 1900 psychiatric patients who will be discharged at the end of March because of the cancellation of the contract between the Gauteng Health Department and Life Healthcare Esidimeni.

They have every right to be concerned as the Department has made little progress in finding alternative places for the discharged patients.

The promised renovations have not been made to the identified facilities, which include the old Germiston hospital, empty wards at Weskoppies and Sterkfontein, the Dan Pienaar creche in Parktown and the old nurses residence at the Transvaal Memorial Institute opposite Constitution Hill. The latter two buildings are derelict.

Human Disaster

Existing NGOs do not have the capacity to take large numbers either.

My view is that the Department should extend the contract with Esidimeni for at least another 6 months, otherwise there will be a human disaster if the patients are forced onto the streets.

I will raise this issue at the Health Committee of the Gauteng Legislature.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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The Democratic Alliance is not opposed to the view of decent work to South Africans. It is not opposed to a decent living wage to hard working individuals in the province and it is very important that it be noted that the DA believes in a prospering South Africa full of endless opportunities.  However, a clear perspective on what Community Health Care Workers are, the work they do and how they relate to both the community and government should be looked at.

Community Health Care Workers know very clearly communities they serve. They know in detail health care challenges in their neighbourhoods and all processes needed to be followed when assisting members of the community. These are trusted men and women in all are communities playing very important roles. It is on this basis that there is a need of consistent relationship between communities and government on health services rendered, therefore, Non-Government Organisations or NPOs are better placed to render these services and Community Health Care Workers would be better placed in NGOs than them being placed as another extension of a government wage bill. This of course will also mean that government should have a serious role to play in supporting the roles played by NGO’s who render community health care service.

It shouldn’t be the case that government fails to support NGOs and NPOs that are meant to promote health and wellness in communities because this will definitely reduce current existing pressures in all Gauteng Primary Health Care Centres. Our primary health care centres in Gauteng are pressured with high volume of patients of whom many could have been assisted by well-co-ordinated NGOs which would be offering a focused intervention programme on health education, wellness and disease prevention in homes, thus reducing number of people coming to primary health care centres.  Now, this Honourable speaker clearly shows the importance of Community Health Care Workers.

These NGOs and NPOs would further be able to access additional international funding based on the community work they do as they would also be responding to the millennium development goal that’s speaks of combating HIV, Malaria and other diseases. International funding and government support would enhance their programmes and I truly believe that they would be remunerated fairly and accordingly looking at the value they would be contributing towards the successes of their NGOs.

Honourable Speaker, the DA proposes this as a way forward in sincerely supporting community health work as performed by this dedicated men and women. Where we govern we excellently implement this strategy and it works. We urge on the Gauteng provincial government to seriously look at this progressive way forward.

27 Initiation Injuries in Gauteng in Two Years

Gauteng Health Facilities

27 young men were treated in Gauteng health facilities in 2013 and 2014 for injuries or illness caused by initiation schools.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

One death was reported over this period, and others were treated for assault, anaemia, dehydration, septic penis and poisoning.

Eleven cases were treated in 2013, and 16 in 2014.


According to Mahlangu, the Department is working closely with CONTRALESA through the Gauteng AIDS Council to ensure that good medical practice is maintained at initiation schools.

This includes encouraging initiation principals to partner with contracted NGOs to perform Medical Male Circumcision.

Furthermore, Environmental Health Practitioners are providing accredited pre-site inspection reports prior to opening of initiation schools.

Traditional leaders are also requested to provide a list of recognised traditional surgeons and headmen to avoid bogus schools, and are provided with contact numbers of Emergency Medical services linked to a nearby health facility.

Cultural Virtues of Initiation

The department is doing good work in this area, but illegal schools are the real problem, such as the one that was raided by police in Meadowlands, Soweto.

While injuries from initiation schools in Gauteng are thankfully much lower than in the Eastern Cape, the battle against illegal schools needs to be stepped up.

The cultural virtues of initiation are best preserved with safe medical procedures and safeguards against abuse.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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