Premier to ensure restorative justice and healing for those affected by Esidimeni tragedy
2017/02/20 Terri-Liza Fortein
Gauteng Premier David Makhura earlier this morning started off the State of the Province Address by acknowledging the bereaved families of the Life Esidimeni tragedy in which more than a hundred mental health patients lost their lives.
The families attended the SOPA where Premier Makhura said “I will spend the remainder of my term over the next two years, to ensure that there is restorative justice and healing for the families and take every executive action possible to restore confidence in our public health system.”
The Gauteng government has been working very closely with the Family Committee to implement remedial action outlined by the Health Ombud, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, in his report released on 1 February 2017.
Premier explained that as the recommendations of the Health Ombud Report are being implemented, every step will be guided by the wishes of the families and the advice of the panel of sixty experts appointed by the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.
“As the Premier of this province, I have publicly stated my deep regret and profusely apology for the tragic death of so many of our vulnerable citizens who were under the care of the Gauteng Department of Health.”
The Premier added that “the decision to transfer Life Esidimeni mental health patients to NGOs was not made in consultation with the Provincial Executive Council. “The Executive Council and I would have never approved a plan to outsource mental health, a primary responsibility of the state to care for the vulnerable in society, to NGOs. What is even worse is the fact that such NGOs didn’t meet appropriate standards and legal prescripts.”
In addition the Provincial Department of Health had repeatedly reported that, as a result of the new hospitals and community health centres, they had enough beds in public health facilities that could accommodate public patients from private health facilities such as Selby Hospital and Life Esidimeni centres.
Together with the Minister of Health and the newly-appointed health MEC, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, government is taking swift action to implement all the recommendations of the Health Ombud, the most urgent of which is to relocate the mental health patients to appropriate facilities.
Premier Makhura said: “We will provide regular updates to the Legislature, the Health Ombud and the public on the progress.”
There are also plans to erect Memorial Stones at the Freedom Park in honour of all those who passed on