Section 27's Mark Heywood has been involved in the case of the deaths of psychiatric patients from Life Healthcare Esidimeni Hospital. He talks to Redi Tlhabi about the gritty details involved, and how the health MEC refused to listen.
It is worse than Marikana. It is death by different means, but it is the death of vulnerable poor people who were in this case in the care of a state hospital and a direct result of negligence.— Mark Heywood, Section 27 founder
He says there was no reason for this to have happened. He says this is a result of the arrogance displayed by former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.
She treats civil society, she treats expert groups like Sadag (South African Depression and Anxiety Group) as if they are the enemies.— Mark Heywood, Section 27 founder
He explains that when they first wrote to her on behalf of Sadag in October 2015, one of her staff made the mistake of forwarding an email to Heywood. This was before the move of patients.
Her response was, don't trust these people, they have an agenda, let's prepare our lawyers.— Mark Heywood, Section 27 founder
Section 27, Sadag and others had offered assistance with the move and it was spurned out of hand.
Instead, they went to court, lied in court, and broke an out of court settlement we reached with them.— Mark Heywood, Section 27 founder
And the consequence is at least 94 dead and enormous pain and suffering for families, he says.
What was really behind the rush by the Health Department to close the facility, asks Heywood?
Listen to more from Mark Heywood about the conditions under which these psychiatric patients tragically died: