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Fears the Esidimeni death toll could rise in coming months

Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba says the death toll in the Life Esidimeni project could in fact increase in the coming months.

Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba (left) joined by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi (second left) give feedback on the Life Esidimeni patients' deaths. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba has told the Life Esidimeni Arbitration hearings that the death toll in the massive project could in fact increase in the coming months.

Makgoba was testifying yesterday for the second time since the hearings began last month.

He revised the number of deaths to 143.

The professor has told the hearings that from October 2016 to February 2017, 118 patients died but at that time, some were still in the unlicensed NGOs.

Makgoba says during the time patients were moved to quality health facilities, more died, with four losing their lives during doctor observations two months ago.

Retired deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke then asked him about the possibility of a much higher death toll.

“Part of the horror is that you have to reconcile these numbers in this complicated way, there are many bodies aren’t there?”

This was the health ombudsman's response.

“This is like a moving train, you may find that there are people who have to follow a different process.”

The hearings continue with a clinical psychologist now on the stand.

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