Health MEC Mahlangu's 'sleepless nights' over deaths of mentally ill patients
Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was haunted by the deaths of 94 mentally ill patients who died after being moved from the Life Esidimeni facility to 27 unlicensed facilities last year.
“She presented that the deaths are giving her sleepless nights ‚” a report released by Health Ombudsman‚ Professor Malegapuru Makgoba‚ revealed on Wednesday.
She has resigned in the wake of the report‚ based on investigations conducted into the fatalities.
In a press briefing held in Pretoria‚ Makgoba said only one of the 94 patients had died of mental health related illness. His report highlighted that some of the patients died because they were not well when received from Life Esidimeni‚ others had signs of respiratory conditions such as TB‚ while others had hypertension and jaundice.
In September 2016‚ Mahlangu had informed the provincial legislature that 37 patients had died.
Quizzed on how the number she gave was significantly lower than the actual number‚ she responded that Dr Makgabo Manamela‚ who is the director of Mental Health Services in Gauteng‚ was responsible for giving her the number of deaths.
Mahlangu said the decision to move the patients was not hers to make but the decision lay with the “official”.
She was‚ however‚ willing to take the blame for the deaths‚ along with other officials.
“We should‚ we will take responsibility‚” Mahlangu reportedly told Makgoba.
Asked whether looking back‚ she thought it was a good decision to move the patients‚ the MEC said she had no foresight this would happen and would have done things differently.
“If she knew patients were going to die‚ she would have not taken the decision‚” Makgoba said.
“She regrets the deaths“.
Mahlangu informed Makgoba that she was willing to meet with the families of the deceased and had informed the family representatives of this.
She was yet to meet with them.
Mahlangu’s resignation was announced shortly after Makgoba released his report‚ when Gauteng Premier David Makhura held another press briefing.
Mahlangu tendered her resignation on Tuesday.
She is to be replaced by Dr Gwen Ramokgopa‚ a former deputy minister of health.