Families describe dysfunction at Gauteng psychiatric centres, plan legal action

Several families of the psychiatric patients who died in the transfer from Life Healthcare Esidimeni Hospital are looking into pursuing legal action against the Gauteng Health Department, former MEC Qedani Mahlangu and various NGOs.

Christine Nxumalo, whose sister Virginia died in the patient transfer, says her family is happy with the report released by the Health Ombudsman.

The report dealt with all the issues and questions that we had.

Christine Nxumalo, sister of deceased of psychiatric patient

The damning report exposed the department’s poor handling of the deaths of 94 psychiatric patients in the province.

Christine says her sister was moved to Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre, but the facility could not locate her sister - who died before Christine was able to visit.

Christine says the centre was not clear on the accurate date of her death in August last year.

She says her family and others want to take legal action against the department and adds that the resignation of Mahlangu is not enough.

At the same time, Clark was able to remove his son who was a patient at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital for five years.

Clark says that Mahlangu ran the health department like a "junk shop".

The patients land up without food for two days and don't have enough medicine. You will see the trucks arrive with peanut butter, which the patients would never see.

Clark, parent of psychiatric patient

Meanwhile, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) says Mahlangu ignored warnings about the patient transfers.

Sadag Operational Director Cassey Chambers says it is sad that so many people had to die before the lives of psychiatric patients were taken seriously.

Take a listen to the next steps by Sadag:

On EWN: Life Esidimeni: How the tragedy unfolded.

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