Fam­ily says it is de­nied clo­sure

Brother can­not be part of Esidi­meni hear­ings

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS -

ASoweto fam­ily whose mem­ber died af­ter be­ing trans­ferred from Life Esidi­meni be­fore the marathon mi­gra­tion that led to the deaths of more than 141 psy­chi­atric pa­tients, say they will never find clo­sure be­cause they have been ex­cluded from the al­ter­na­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion process.

Ac­cord­ing to Lu­cas Mphuthi, the brother of Martha Mphuthi, who died in 2013 at Mosego Home, an NGO in Krugers­dorp, his sis­ter had been at Life Esidi­meni in Rand­fontein for more than 30 years and was do­ing well un­til she was trans­ferred to Mosego Home with­out their knowl­edge.

“I used to visit Martha at Esidi­meni and she was do­ing well in terms of health, and her morale used to be high, un­til one day I was told she had been trans­ferred to an­other NGO called Mosego.

“When I asked them (Esidi­meni so­cial work­ers) they told me that she was trans­ferred with other pa­tients be­cause they were busy ren­o­vat­ing.

“They promised me that as soon as they had com­pleted ren­o­vat­ing they would bring her back, but this never hap­pened.

“They also told me that the rea­son why Martha was trans­ferred was be­cause she was do­ing well and the only pa­tients who were left be­hind were those whose health was crit­i­cal.

“When I went to see her at Mosego within a space of a month she was so thin and to my shock she was in a wheel­chair. Martha asked me to take her home, she was hys­ter­i­cal and cry­ing.

“At Mosego she was not get­ting food and med­i­ca­tion. I promised I would come and take her the fol­low­ing week but when I went there af­ter a month I was told she had died more than three weeks ear­lier. Her death cer­tifi­cate stated she had died of nat­u­ral causes, which I don’t be­lieve is true.”

The ar­bi­tra­tion hear­ing led by re­tired deputy chief jus­tice Dik­gang Moseneke is ex­pected to re­sume on Wed­nes­day.

For­mer di­rec­tor of men­tal health in Gaut­eng, Mak­gabo Manamela, could tes­tify af­ter be­ing sub­poe­naed on an ur­gent ba­sis by lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the be­reaved fam­i­lies.

Manamela’s pos­si­ble tes­ti­mony is among three tes­ti­monies iden­ti­fied by Moseneke as “the most im­por­tant” to the fam­i­lies get­ting clo­sure. Manamela, sus­pended for­mer Gaut­eng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and Health Depart­ment head Bar­ney Sele­bano are among the ex­ec­u­tives who played a role in the Esidi­meni project.

Mphuthi said he had been to the of­fices of Gaut­eng Health Depart­ment as well as the of­fice of the Gaut­eng pre­mier seek­ing to have his sis­ter’s death in­ves­ti­gated but with no suc­cess.

“When I went to the pre­mier’s of­fice I was told by a gen­tle­men called Bafana Malunga that my sis­ter’s death was not part of those in­ves­ti­gated by the health om­buds­man, so I could not be part of the al­ter­na­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion process.

“He said I must open a case with the po­lice if I wanted the cause of my sis­ter’s death in­ves­ti­gated.”

Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial spokesper­son Thabo Masebe said peo­ple such as Mphuthi had been ex­cluded from the al­ter­na­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion process be­cause they did not fall un­der what health om­buds­man Male­ga­puru Mak­goba was in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

“Re­mem­ber that the al­ter­na­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion process came about from the rec­om­men­da­tions of the om­bud to look at the gross neg­li­gence which took place when the marathon project was con­ducted,” Masebe said.

“Peo­ple like Mphuthi should ap­proach the min­is­ter of health and the Gaut­eng gov­ern­ment so that we can look at how the gov­ern­ment can as­sist them.”

Esidi­meni fam­ily com­mit­tee spokesper­son An­drew Pi­etersen said fam­i­lies that had been ex­cluded from the al­ter­na­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion process could join the com­mit­tee, although this did not nec­es­sar­ily mean that they would then be in­cluded in the process.

In­clu­sion in the al­ter­na­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion process would de­pend on when the pa­tient was moved from Esidi­meni, he said.

“I think the cut-off date is set at around Oc­to­ber 2015.”

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