143 died but Gauteng Health officials escape with warnings

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The Life Esidimeni incident culminated in the death of 143 people under state psychiatric care. The only consequences for two Gauteng Health officials cited as playing a critical role has been written warnings, Acting Health MEC Jacob Mamabolo has told the Gauteng provincial legislature.

In October 2015 it was discovered that a number of psychiatric patients died under the care of various NGOs hired by the Gauteng Health as part of a move to save costs. The patients were originally housed at Life Esidimeni, but later been moved to the NGOs, where more than 100 died from neglect, with official death toll – although not all patients have been traced to this day – now at 143.

As part of the arbitration hearings headed by retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, various health officials were interviewed on their roles in the tragedy. Among those were Gauteng health chief planning director Levy Mosenogi and deputy director for clinical services Dr Richard Lebethe.

According to a Cape Argus report, they were both cited during evidence presented during the hearings and played a critical role in the Health Department’s project to move the patients from Esidemeni to the NGOs. During a sitting of the Gauteng legislature this week, Mamabolo said Lebethe and Mosenogi had faced a disciplinary hearing in line with the outcomes of the arbitration hearings.

According to the MEC, the two were given written warnings. Mamabolo explained the seemingly light sentence, saying Mosenogi had been cleared and that no adverse findings were made against him to justify a criminal charge.

Democratic Alliance MPL Jack Bloom said the written warning seemed to be a ‘shocking’ outcome of the disciplinary hearing, especially when weighing the number of people who had lost their lives because of what appeared to be neglect. When asked why no one had been charged for criminal neglect regarding Esidimeni, Mamabolo said that this was a law enforcement matter.


Full Cape Argus report


See also:

The Life Esidimeni tragedy in MedicalBrief's archives

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