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Esidimeni tragedy: Will a national surveillance system work?

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says a national surveillance system to prevent a repeat of the tragedy will be implemented.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says a national surveillance system to prevent a repeat of the Esidimeni tragedy will be implemented soon.

Responding to debate on a statement he made in the National Assembly on Thursday, the minister said government was not avoiding responsibility for the deaths of over 100 mentally ill patients moved from Life Esidimeni hospitals, to falsely licensed non-governmental organisations in Gauteng.

Motsoaledi says a surveillance system proposed by the National Public Health Institute will be laid before Cabinet for approval next week.

He’s also selected a panel to review the Mental Health Act.

The minister says he will be meeting with the families of the Esidimeni victims this weekend, to decide who will lead the process to ensure that justice is done.

“I agree with the EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters’] that there were many illegalities in what has happened.”

Motsoaledi assured opposition parties that action is being taken in line with the Health Ombud’s recommendations.

“No question will go unanswered. That’s why there are going to be inquests. It’s clearly written what we need to do.”

He says he respects the wishes of relatives not to turn the matter into a “political football”.

‘HEADS MUST ROLL’

Opposition members of Parliament have called for heads to roll following the tragedy.

The EFF's Susan Thembekwayo has accused the ANC of refusing to take responsibility for the travesty.

“It’s not enough that Qedani Mahlangu resigned, it’s also not enough that the ANC government comes here and offers a half-baked apology.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Christian Msimang says a full forensic audit must be conducted following this incident.

“Such negligence and culpability is tantamount to murder. Government through its delegation of responsibility to ill-equipped entities is party to these horrific crimes.”

Agang South Africa’s Andries Tlouamma says the tragedy is shameful and is a blight on the government.

“Esidimeni is the first ANC Nazi camp. The Premier David Makhura had the grave of the South Africans back when they were still alive. We are all humiliated by this act of barbarism. It was a policy of extermination against mentally ill patients and a gross betrayal.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)