Cape Town – Gauteng’s former deputy director-general for mental health services Hannah Jacobus told the Pretoria High Court on Monday that there was insufficient time to transfer mentally ill patients from Life Esidimeni facilities.
According to eNCA, between 2016 and 2017, more than 1 000 patients were transferred from Johannesburg’s Life Healthcare Esidimeni hospital to various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as part of a cost-cutting drive.
Some of the NGOs, however, were found to be unlicensed and unfit to care for the patients.
As a result, 144 patients died, many of whom died because of pneumonia, dehydration, and diarrhoea.
The incident sparked outrage and drew lawmakers’ attention.
An inquest was then held to determine who was criminally liable for the patients’ deaths.
After several procedural delays to the inquest, it resumed on Monday with Jacobus taking the stand to give evidence.
Jacobus was tasked with finding new accommodation for psychiatric patients, according to EWN.
She testified at the inquest that the process of finding new NGOs for the patients was rushed after in December 2015, they were told by Dr Makgabo Manamela, the former head of mental health at the Gauteng health department, that patients would be transferred from Life Esidimeni to NGOs in March 2016, News24 reported.
Jacobus also admitted that some of the NGOs were woefully under-equipped and that no proper inspections were conducted.
“The process was rushed. All my colleagues voiced to Dr [Makgabo] Manamela that the time frame was not enough. She told us that she was being instructed to do this task. Unusual circumstances were her words,” the report quoted Jacobus as saying.
“There weren’t any processes followed,” she continued.
Compiled by Sinothando Siyolo