A proposal by the Democratic Alliance has been accepted by the Gauteng Legislature's Oversight Committee on the Premier's Office and Legislature (OCPOL) to probe the role of Gauteng Premier David Makhura's office in the deaths of 94 mental health patients after they were transferred to unlicensed NGOs.
At the OCPOL meeting last week on Friday I pointed out that on page 30 of the Health Ombud's report on the matter the following claim is made by Dr Barney Selebano, the Head of the Gauteng Health Department:
" ... the decision to start deinstitutionalization of mental health care users from Life Healthcare Esidimeni was undertaken in the Office of the Premier of Gauteng, the Honourable David Makhura, together with the HoD".
This claim needs to be investigated as well as the failure of the Premier's Office and the Premier himself to effectively monitor the disastrous transfer of patients that led to the deaths.
Premier Makhura prides himself on the Ntirhisano Rapid Response War Room but this failed to respond to the concerns of relatives of mental health patients who demonstrated on two occasions outside the headquarters of the Gauteng Health Department.
Furthermore, there was a plethora of media reports on the plight of the patients and complaints by the relatives, as well as two court applications where the Premier was cited as a respondent.
It is simply not credible that the Premier and his office were unaware of the problems and the need for swift intervention.
The Premier also needs to account why he did not fire Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu after she disclosed in response to my questions in the Legislature on 13 September 2016 that 36 patients had died.
I have requested in my letter to OCPOL Chairperson Godfrey Tsotetsi (see below) that a report is requested from the Premier's office that includes a time-line of the whole decision-making process with regard to the decision to transfer patients from Esidimeni to the NGOs.
I have also requested that the Premier and senior officials should appear before the committee for questions.
Makhura can expect tough questioning at the next OCPOL meeting which should be held within the next two weeks.
Source: Democratic Alliance