DA gets oversight committee to probe Premier’s role in 94 deaths
TMG Digital | 2017-02-05 12:37:37.0
David Makhura shakes hands with the DA’s Jack Bloom at the Gauteng legislature in Johannesburg. File photo
Image by: CORNELL TUKIRI
The Gauteng Legislature’s Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature (OCPOL) has accepted a proposal by the Democratic Alliance to probe the role of Premier David Makhura’s office in the deaths of 94 mental health patients after they were transferred to unlicensed NGOs.
The DA’s spokesman on health matters in Gauteng‚ Jack Bloom‚ said on Sunday that he had also requested that Makhura and senior officials should appear before the committee for questions.
He added that Makhura could expect tough questioning at the next OCPOL meeting which should be held within the next two weeks.
Bloom said that at the OCPOL meeting last week on Friday‚ he had pointed out that on page 30 of the Health Ombud’s report on the matter the following claim was 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.”
Bloom said this claim needed 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‚” Bloom stated.
He added that in his letter to OCPOL Chairperson Godfrey Tsotetsi he had also asked that a report be 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.