Life Esidimeni inquest: Former official admits NGOs failed to meet requirements

Former Gauteng Health Department official Hannah Jacobus has admitted that conditions at NGOs that received patients from Life Esidimeni failed to meet the basic requirements for an organisation to care for mental healthcare users.

Hannah Jacobus, the sixth witness at the Life Esidimeni, oversaw the relocation of more than 100 psychiatric patients to illegal facilities in 2016. Picture: Section27

CAPE TOWN - Cross-examination of a former senior Gauteng Health Department official will continue when the Life Esidimeni inquest resumes later on Thursday morning.

Hannah Jacobus, the sixth witness called to testify, oversaw the disastrous relocation of more than 140 psychiatric patients to illegal facilities in 2016.

The inquest resumed in the Pretoria High Court at the start of this week.

Former Gauteng Health Department official Hannah Jacobus has admitted that conditions at NGOs that received patients from Life Esidimeni failed to meet the basic requirements for an organisation to care for mental healthcare users.

Section27's Advocate Adila Hassim on Wednesday questioned Jacobus about the licencing of at least two NGOs involved in the tragedy.

At one of them, Precious Angels, in Pretoria, more than 20 mentally ill Esidimeni patients died.

Hassim read out some of the contents of a report on NGO support visits that detailed how some patients there were placed in beds meant for children, that there was only one toilet. Overcrowding and uncleanliness were apparent, floor tiles were broken, there were no burglar bars and there had been no legal documents or records of a patient's progress.

She said that the report also showed medication had been kept in a trolley that couldn't be locked, along with other items like nappies.

"Under emergency equipment, it says 'none'. Is that a safety risk?" asked Hassim.

"Yes, counsel" responded Jacobus.

Jacobus agreed that these conditions and the treatment received were not appropriate for mental healthcare users.