15/02/2017 09:17 SAST | Updated 15/02/2017 10:16 SAST

Another Psychiatric Patient Dies As The Life Esidimeni Crisis Continues: That's 95 Deaths Now

The patient is said to have died at an NGO in Cullinan in Gauteng.

Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla
Bertha Molefe, who lost her daughter breaks down during the media briefing two weeks ago when the Health Ombudsman released the report on the deaths of 94 Life Esidimeni psychiatric patients.

Another Gauteng psychiatric patient is said to have died this week at a non-governmental organisation centre in Cullinan, east of Pretoria. Democratic Alliance (DA) member of the Gauteng provincial legislature (MPL) Jack Bloom on Wednesday said he was informed of the patient's death by a relative.

"I have been informed of another death of a patient transferred from Life Esidimeni to the Shammah NGO based in Cullinan. According to his brother, he died this week and was in an emaciated condition," said Bloom.

He said the recent death gives urgency to the need to close down dodgy NGOs and transfer patients to decent facilities as recommended by the Health Ombudsman in his report on the 94 previously identified deaths. The report was released two weeks ago.

Patients were moved from Life Esidimeni to NGOs as the Gauteng Department of Health was looking to cut costs.

Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba in his report found that all 27 of the NGOs that the department had identified and moved the patients to were operating with invalid licences. He said, therefore, that all patients who died in these NGOs died in unlawful circumstances. Makgoba said the facilities did not have basic competence and experience, the managerial or leadership capacity, the "fitness for purpose" and were often poorly resourced.

Bloom said delays in transferring patients should not add to the immense tragedy of avoidable deaths.

"The final death count is likely to be well over a hundred as Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi noted yesterday [Tuesday] that there were 19 unidentified bodies in mortuaries from NGOs where Esidimeni patients were transferred. I welcome Motsoaledi's announcement that 22 of the 27 NGOs will be closed based on the assessments of the expert team that he has assembled in this matter," said Bloom.