13/03/2017 19:46 SAST | Updated 13/03/2017 19:48 SAST

Health Minister Motsoaledi Appoints Appeals Tribunal For Life Esidimeni Disaster

The tribunal is headed by a retired judge, Justice Bernard Ngoepe.

Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla
A prayer vigil in remembrance of psychiatric patients who died after being transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni facilities.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has appointed a tribunal to process appeals against the Health Ombudsman's findings about the deaths of over 100 psychiatric patients moved from Life Esidimeni in 2016.

The independent ad hoc tribunal would be headed by retired Judge President of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Justice Bernard Ngoepe, department spokesperson Joe Maila said on Monday.

The tribunal had been appointed with immediate effect and was expected to conclude its work within two months.

Ngoepe will be assisted by Brian Robertson, retired professor of psychiatry at the University of Cape Town; and Hoosen Coovadia, a retired professor of paediatrics at the University of Natal.

"The Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi wishes members of the tribunal well in discharging their responsibilities," Maila said.

On February 1, Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba revealed that at least 94 patients had died after being moved from the Life Esidimeni facilities to 27 non-government organisations across the province in 2016.

They died of thirst, hunger and cold. The department cancelled Esidimeni's contract as part of cost-cutting measures.

Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu stepped down in the wake of the scandal.

In February, Makgoba told Parliament's portfolio committee on health that the death toll would continue to rise, after more than 100 patients were reported to have died.

Makgoba said his office was continuing to receive data from the public since his report on the disastrous move was made public on February 1.

His findings included that the 27 NGOs were under-resourced, under-financed and ill-equipped to take on the influx of psychiatric patients.