NGOs that took in Life Esidimeni patients flagged capacity issues, court hears

The formal inquest into the deaths of at least 144 mentally ill patients after they were moved from Life Esidimeni facilities to under resourced NGOs in 2016 continued on Tuesday.

FILE: Life Esidimeni Waverley Care Centre Hospital in Boksburg. Picture: Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - The High Court in Pretoria has heard how NGOs appointed by the Gauteng Department of Health raised concerns that they were not capacitated to look after mentally ill patients but their inabilities were dismissed.

The formal inquest into the deaths of at least 144 mentally ill patients after they were moved from Life Esidimeni facilities to under-resourced NGOs in 2016 continued on Tuesday.

The inquest is hearing evidence from its second witness, Busku Mkhatshwa, a medical doctor and former managing director at Life Esidimeni.

Evidence leader Mari Marriott has been reading Mkhatshwa's statement.

“Through the representative of the existing NGOs, we requested expanded service offering and number of beds. In order to do so, they needed to obtain new licences.”

The court also has heard how former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu assured health officials at Life Esidimeni facilities that patients were being moved to NGOs that offered equal or better care.

Mkhasthwa has been giving testimony about the process taken by the provincial health department when it terminated its contract with the healthcare facility.

He said they were told patients would receive high care from the NGOs.

“Whenever we questioned why we would not be able to go and see the facilities, why families would not go to see the facilities, we were assured that the department has done thorough work in making sure that the facilities they would be transferred to would be of equal standard of care or better.”

WATCH: Day 2 of Esidimeni inquest

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