Gauteng health department to give testimony into the deaths of mentally ill patients
The alternative dispute resolution process will look into the death of more than 100 patients who died while in the state’s care
The Gauteng health department is expected to give testimony on Monday about what caused the deaths of more than 100 mentally ill patients who died while in the state’s care.
The alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process begins on Monday in Johannesburg and will be chaired by retired chief justice Dikgang Moseneke. Alternative dispute resolution was one of the recommendations made by the health ombudsman in his February report titled "No Guns: 94+ silent deaths and counting".
The families lost relatives when they were moved from Life Esidimeni homes into illegal and ill-equipped nongovernmental organisations (NGOs).
Many of the 100 or so patients died needlessly of pneumonia‚ starvation and neglect‚ according to health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba’s report, released in February.
Parties involved will have a chance to explain what went wrong in the cost-cutting exercise that cost the lives of patients and what could have been done better.
The families chose arbitration as the method of resolving the dispute, seeking equitable redress that included compensation. But it remains unclear where the cash-strapped Gauteng health department will source the funds from.
The state, represented by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Gauteng premier David Makhura, has already conceded unconditionally that the conduct of its employees and functionaries had unlawfully and negligently caused the deaths of the more than 100 mentally ill patients.
Section 27 spokeswoman Nomatter Ndebele said they would be making submissions as well on how the process could have been handled to avoid the deaths of patients.
"Getting to this point has taken a long while, since February we have been advocating for the process to happen," Ndebele said.
Hearings will run for three weeks in Johannesburg. Once the hearings are complete‚ Moseneke must make a ruling within 30 days.