Call for probe into Makhura's false Esidimeni claims – Jack Bloom

DA MPL says tragedy could have been averted if Premier had listened to warnings

DA pushes probe for Premier Makhura's false Esidimeni claims

12 February 2018

I have submitted a motion to the Gauteng Legislature to refer Premier David Makhura to the Legislature’s Integrity Commissioner for falsely claiming that he did not know that Life Esidimeni patients were being sent to NGOs rather than state facilities.

Makhura said in his State of the Province speech in February last year that he “would have never approved a plan to outsource mental health, a primary responsibility of the state to care for the vulnerable in society, to NGOs.”

He also said repeatedly under oath at the Esidimeni arbitration hearings that he was unaware that patients would be sent to NGOs as he thought that there were enough beds for them in state hospitals.

The clearest evidence that contradicts his claim is that he was in the Legislature on 15 March 2016 when former Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa said in an oral reply to my questions that 1835 patients from Esidimeni would be sent to new places before the end of June, and that “the NGOs have hired the staff. They have also been given licenses.”

The Hansard transcript records my response as follows: “I am still very, very concerned. I speak to mental health NGOs, and they tell me that there are no facilities, that it simply has not been done”.

Mahlangu also made reference to the court judgement that day in favour of the Gauteng Health Department moving Esidimeni patients to the Takalani Children’s home in Soweto despite the concern that it was not suitable to move adults there.

She said “the patients we are bringing there are exactly more or less the same intellectual disability of the same people who are at Takalani, so there is nothing wrong with what we are doing.”

The mixing of adults with children at this NGO was heavily criticized at the arbitration hearings.

One woman was allegedly raped at Takalani  and two patients contracted typhoid due to a lack of hygiene. It was the most deadly NGO, with 31 recorded deaths.

This could all have been averted if Premier Makhura had listened to the warnings instead of falsely claiming that he didn’t even know that patients were being sent to NGOs.

The Hansard transcript of the 15 March 2016 indicates that Makhura lied about what he knew concerning the transfer of patients to NGOs.

He certainly knew about the transfer to Takalani because of the court case and Mahlangu’s response to my questions in the Legislature.

A case of perjury could be opened against him as he was testifying under oath at the hearings.

The motion that I have submitted calls on the House to resolve:

i. To express sincere regret for the deaths of the Life Esidimeni patients which was one of the most painful and terrible events in post-apartheid South Africa;

ii. To confirm that the Premier and MECs are individually accountable for what happens in their departments and should ensure that they are given true information by competent and ethical officials, including replies to the Legislature;

iii. To refer to the Integrity Commissioner the issue of whether the Honourable Premier David Makhura breached the Code of Conduct and Ethics by misleading this House and the Arbitration Hearings by claiming he never knew that Life Esidimeni patients were being sent to NGOs, despite evidence to the contrary, including the proceedings of the sitting on 15 March 2016.

The Legislature’s Programming Committee will need to schedule this motion for debate in the House in the next few weeks.

The ANC should support this motion in order to ensure political accountability for the Esidimeni deaths.

Issued by Jack Bloom, DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC, 12 February 2018