Former Gauteng Health MEC Dorothy Qedani Mahlangu’s counsel argued this week that the Life Esidimeni deaths could not be attributed to her. Advocate Laurence Hodes said that even before the department moved patients to NGOs, mentally ill patients were dying at Life Esidimeni facilities.
Hodes told the Life Esidimeni inquest, headed by Judge Mmonoa Teffo, that from 2012 to 2017, an average of 80 deaths a year were recorded at Life Esidimeni facilities, News24 reports. The inquest is sitting to determine if anyone can be held liable for the deaths of at least 140 mental healthcare patients moved from Life Esidimeni to ill-equipped NGOs.
Hodes also accuse the Esidimeni Groupof moving patients without their medical files and clothes, and overcharging the government.
In cross-examining former MD of the Life Esidimeni Group, Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa, Hodes said that after the patients were moved, 140 died in 18 months. “You cannot attribute any particular deaths to the conduct of Dorothy Qedani Mahlangu,” Hodes said.
Mkhatshwa said the Life Esidimeni facilities usually recorded high death rates during winter, especially in patients with comorbidities. He said the facilities offered patients flu vaccines in winter as a form of protection, adding: “In every facility, there will be death. I would not say people would not have died if they were at Life Esidimeni.”
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