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Esidimeni investigation: Health ombud awaits GP Health documentation

Prof Makgoba says he has been ready to investigate the deaths of 36 psychiatric patients since last Thursday.

Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Health Ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, says he has been ready to begin investigating the deaths of 36 psychiatric patients in Gauteng since last week, but is waiting on health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to hand over all relevant documents and records.

The patients were transferred to various health facilities in the province from Life Esidimeni earlier this year, after the department terminated its contract with Esidimeni.

Professor Makgoba says he has been ready to investigate the deaths since last Thursday.

"I have been ready since last week Thursday to start the investigation, and I have just been waiting for the Health Department to organise themselves and provide the documentation that we need."

He says he spoke to MEC Mahlangu last night, and she promised to have the patients' documents handed over to him by Friday.

"She told me that all those documents are in an advanced stage of preparation, and I asked 'will I have them this morning?' She said, 'I don't think you will have them this morning but you will have them by Friday'."

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi requested the health ombudsman to investigate the patients' deaths last week, and added that the matter is urgent.

LISTEN: MEC Qedani Mahlangu on the deaths of psychiatric patients

At the same time, the Gauteng provincial government says it's received 27 medical files from the Life Esidimeni healthcare centre, and is fully cooperating with investigations into the deaths of 36 psychiatric patients in the province.

Last week, Mahlangu said her department was experiencing some difficulty retrieving medical records from the Esidimeni centre.

Provincial government says while the documents were handed over last night, it will need time to re-package them into the formats requested by the office of the ombudsman.

Spokesperson to the premier, Phumla Sekhonyane, says while the process is time-consuming, government is co-operating.

"They then requested that we submit both in soft and hard copies. We have about 6,000 pages that we are in the process of submitting. Just to reiterate, we are fully cooperating and we have undertaken to fully subject ourselves to this process."

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