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Health ombudsman assembles team to probe Gauteng patient deaths

The ombudsman is waiting on the health MEC to handover all the relevant documents and records.

Picture: freeimages.com.

JOHANNESBURG - Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba says he has put together a team of five professionals to assist him with the investigation into the deaths of 36 psychiatric patients, who were transferred from Life Esidimeni.

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

Makgoba says the team he has established consists of four independent psychiatric experts and one who is experienced in public health.

"Some of them are retired while the others are young. They are all experts in their area of expertise that we want to investigate."

Makgoba says the office of health standards compliance has also constituted a team of inspectors to conduct inspections at the facilities concerned.

"They will assess the quality, competence and management of facilities."

The health ombudsman says he's been ready to begin investigating the deaths since last week - but is waiting on Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to handover all the relevant documents and records.

He says she has promised to have all the files handed over to him by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the provincial Gauteng government says it has received 27 medical files from Life Esidimeni so far and is fully cooperating with investigations.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura's spokesperson Phumla Sekhonya says they are still awaiting other files from the facility.

"I want to reiterate provincial government has welcomed the intervention of the ombudsman investigating this matter and the MEC is also fully cooperating with the office of the health ombudsman."

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