No patients will be thrown out on the streets – Mahlangu

Gauteng MEC for Health, Qedani Mahlangu.


This was revealed by Gauteng MEC for Health, Qedani Mahlangu following the news that the Gauteng South High Court has dismissed an urgent interdict brought by South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) which sought to prevent the department from discharging 54 Life Esidimeni Mental Institution patients and placing them at Takalani Home.

The department’s spokesperson, Steve Mabona, said the court agreed with the department that it had not reneged on an agreement (which was not disclosed) reached with Sadag and other organisations in December last year.

“And as such, the department should continue with its plans to discharge and place those who still need medical care to different facilities,” he said.

“And contrary to Sadag’s allegations, the department has kept everyone concerned informed about plans to place patients at various NGOs as part of winding up services with Life Esidimeni, as the contract with the institution will be coming to an end on 30 June.”

In October last year, Mahlangu announced that the department had given notice to terminate its contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni Hospital. She said the contract termination was in line with the Mental Health Care Act of 2002, which encourages mental health care practitioners to treat mental health care users in the least restrictive environment.

Mabona added that there were 1 835 psychiatric patients still in the care of Life Healthcare Esidimeni who will be placed in alternative homes before the end of June this year. He said 54 patients had already been transferred to new facilities.

“As stated previously, the doctors took a decision based on clinical reasons that patients be discharged. The planned placement of patients will be conducted in phases. A concern raised by Sadag that Takalani Home caters for children was not accepted by the court since the department made it clear that children will be separated from adults and placed accordingly,” Mabona said.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health Jack Bloom said, “I am not convinced that everything is going as smoothly as the MEC claims. There are many anxious families who are unable to look after relatives who are shortly going to be discharged from Life Healthcare, and I hope that suitable facilities can indeed be found for them.”

In response, Mabona said, “Our message to families is that we are handling this process with the utmost care, compassion and transparency. We request them to talk to us whenever they have concerns.”

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Aphiwe Boyce
Metro Reporter

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