Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has asked the health ombudsman to investigate the deaths of 36 psychiatric patients after they were transferred out of a government facility earlier this year.

He asked the ombudsman to provide a report and recommendations. Led by Malegapuru Makgoba, the office of the ombudsman was established to investigate such cases.

The patients died after being transferred from the Life Esidimeni facility in Johannesburg earlier this year.

Life Esidimeni looked after about 2 000 patients and was funded by the department. Mahlangu previously cited cost-cutting measures as one of the main reasons for for the transfer.

Mahlangu said that ”the patients were transferred without the clinical files that detailed their medical history, and doctors were sent to the NGOs to examine the medical needs of the patients”.

“An investigation was continuing into the cause of the deaths,” he added.