The DA is laying charges today against former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu who resigned this week after the devastating findings of the Health Ombudsman’s report into the transfer of mental health patients from Life Healthcare Esidimeni to NGOs without legal licenses where 94 patients died.
In my affidavit, Mahlangu is charged with culpable homicide and with contraventions of the Mental Health Care Act (MHCA) and the National Health Act (NHA).
Click here to view the affidavit.
The crime of culpable homicide is defined as the “unlawful, negligent killing of another human being.”
The Ombud’s Report in numerous instances describes the conduct of the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) and by extension the MEC, as negligent. There can be no doubt that the deaths of the patients are as a direct consequence of that conduct, and that the conduct was not in accordance with the NHA, the MHCA and the Constitution.
It is therefore apparent that the MEC, in instructing the termination of the GDoH contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni, has prima facia met the requirements of culpable homicide.
Section 70 of the MHCA states as follows:
“(1) Any person who –
(a) misrepresents a fact in any application, report, record, certificate;
(b) obstructs or hinders any person in the performance of his or her functions;
(c) neglects, abuses or treats a mental health care user in any degrading manner or allows the user to be treated in that manner;
…. is guilty of an offence.
The MEC’s false statement in the Legislature on 13 September 2016 in which she said that 36 patients had died whereas the true figure was 77 patients is a prima facie misrepresentation of a fact in a report as considered by Section 70(1)(a) above.
Furthermore, the decision by the GDoH to terminate its contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni at the MEC’s instruction directly resulted in the neglect and abuse of numerous mental health care users. Instigating such treatment, let alone permitting it, is therefore a prima facie offence in terms of Section 70(1)(c).
I also charge the MEC with breaches of the NHA that relate the withholding of adequate health services as required in Section 3(2) and also the failure to provide discharge reports as required in Section 10.
I have laid these charges as it is important that there are consequences for contraventions of the law by politicians and also because I am not confident that the provincial government will lay similar charges against former MEC Mahlangu.
The scale of the deaths and the negligence make this a Medical Marikana that requires accountability from the perpetrators and justice for the victims.
Media are invited to the Johannesburg Central Police Station at 1 Commissioner Street at 12pm where I will be formally laying the charges.