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ANC in Tshwane ready to cooperate with probe into Esidimeni tragedy

The DA claims money paid by government to one of the NGOs where patients were transferred to may have been pocketed by officials.

A screengrab of Life Healthcare Esidimeni private hospital in East London. Picture: www.lifehealthcare.co.za.

PRETORIA – The African National Congress (ANC) in Tshwane says it’s ready to cooperate with any investigation made regarding a members' alleged involvement in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) claims money paid by government to one of the NGOs where patients were transferred to may have been pocketed by officials.

The party says the Rebafenyi Centre was paid R2,700 per patient per month, but it was not adequately equipped to care for mentally ill patients.

The Rebafenyi Mental Health Centre is one of the NGOs Life Esidimeni patients were moved to.

The ANC’s Teboho Joala says the party is certain that none of its members were in anyway involved in the Life Esidimeni tragedy and an investigation will prove that.

“We’ve made an inquiry with the NGO concerned, she’s not implicated at all. If any other organsiation that wants to investigate, we’ll cooperate fully.”

He says these claims are clearly a malicious attempt to tarnish the name of the ANC and the councilor involved.

However, the DA has called for a thorough probe by the Health Department.

45-DAY DEADLINE

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says he’s confident his department will meet the 45-day deadline set by the Health Ombudsman to initiate 18 recommendations related to former Life Esidimeni mental health patients.

The minister provided a briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday on the implementation of the Health Ombudsman’s recommendations contained in a damning report released two weeks ago.

The report found that the Gauteng Health Department allowed at least 94 mentally ill patients to die because they hadn’t been cared for properly when moved into the care of NGO care facilities.

Motsoaledi says most of the 18 recommendations have been initiated, including the transfer of former Life Esidimeni patients to proper care facilities.

“We believe we’ll be able to meet the Ombudsman’s deadline of 45 days. The transfers will be supervised by the professional and legal teams.”

He says the patients’ families will be consulted.

“When the professionals and technical teams assess each and every patient and take a decision, they will not do so alone, families will always be at hand to give their input and their approval.”

Newly appointed Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa says a process has started to visit every affected family to provide advice and support.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)