Gauteng Health MEC Mahlangu resigns in wake of Esidimeni report

Mahlangu’s resignation follows the Health Ombudsman’s report stating that 94 patients from Life Healthcare Esidimeni died.

FILE: Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu. Picture: Gauteng Provincial Health Dept Facebook page.

JOHANNESBURG – Gauteng Premier David Makhura has confirmed he’s received a letter of resignation from Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in the wake of a damning report on her department’s handling of the deaths of 94 psychiatric patients in the province.

Makhhura says she not only resigned as Health MEC but also as a member of the provincial legislature.

Her resignation is immediate and current Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza will act as Health MEC for the next seven days while Gwen Ramokgopa will return to the portfolio next week.

The Health Ombudsman revealed on Wednesday that 27 NGOs who received patients transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni were operating unlawfully.

At least 1,300 patients were transferred between April and June last year when the Gauteng Health Department terminated its contract with Esidimeni.

The ombudsman says 27 of the facilities to which the patients were sent either had incorrect licenses or no license at all.

Professor Malegapuru Makgoba says numerous human rights violations took place from the time the Gauteng Health Department took the decision to take the patients from Esidimeni and move them to various NGOs.

Read the Health Ombudsman's full report below:

The report into the ‘circumstances surrounding the deaths of mentally ill patients: Gauteng province’ by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd

One of the things that shocked everyone is what he said about these organisations not having the correct documentation to house patients.

“All 27 NGOs where patients were transferred from Life Esidimeni had been found to have been operating under invalid licenses.”

Read the annexures to the Health Ombudsman's full report below:

Life Esidimeni Report - Office of the Health Ombud by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd

Makgoba says the decision to move these patients in the first place was rushed.

“The programme of action they undertook was described by almost every stakeholder as chaotic, in shambles and rushed.”

As he presented his findings, a mother who lost her daughter sobbed uncontrollably and was being comforted by others who stood around her.

Read an explainer below, courtesy of Section27:

Life Esidimeni Fact Sheet by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)