The DA is appalled by remarks made by ANC Secretary Gwede Mantashe at the ANC Gauteng Policy Conference in Pretoria on Friday evening.

During his address to delegates and the media, Mr Mantashe referred to the Life Esidimeni tragedy which resulted in the death of more than 110 mental health patients in Gauteng, as “ukufa kwamageza”.

This is a downright derogatory statement that mocks all mental health patients. It reinforces how the ANC does not care about mentally ill South Africans and how this has led to the death of the Esidimeni patients at the hands of the ANC.

We urge Mr Mantashe to publicly apologise unconditionally to all mental health patients as well as the rest of South Africa. I also call on Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, to come out and condemn this statement in the strongest terms.

With this statement, Mr Mantashe confirmed the ANC’s disdain for mentally ill patients. It rubs salt in the wounds of the victims and the family members of the Esidimeni tragedy, especially after President Zuma recently refused to institute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the tragedy.

The manner in which the ANC handled the recent grant crisis as well as the Esidimeni tragedy is shocking evidence of a government that cares only for themselves and not for ordinary South Africans – especially not the most vulnerable.

Mr Mantashe must apologise in public and without delay. The DA will not allow the careless ANC government to continue to disregard and insult vulnerable South Africans.