Former Managing Director of Life Esidimeni, Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa has denied any knowledge of mentally ill patients suffering from malnourishment or incidents of suicide at the center during his tenure.
Mkhatshwa is one of the key witnesses at the inquest taking place at the North Gauteng High Court, into the deaths of 144 mentally-ill patients who were transferred to ill-equipped NGOs. Mkhatshwa has also rejected accusations of a shortage of clothing and blankets for the patients. He’s testified that all natural deaths were investigated and reported to the relevant authorities.
“Every death at Life Esidimeni was investigated and reported to the Department of Health. Commissioner asked, “Unnatural deaths in a sense that there will suicide in the facilities?” to which Mkhatshwa responded, “As indicated, all natural deaths would be investigated.”
When the commissioner put it to Mkatshwa that some of the concerns raised were that patients were “in a bad state, sickly, frail and malnourished,” Mkhatshwa responded, “Absolutely untrue.” The inquest sitting in the High Court in Pretoria resumed on Monday morning following a four-week break.
The patients died between March and December 2016 after the Gauteng Health government had moved them from Esidimeni to various ill-equipped NGOs. Life Esidimeni charged the department at least R250 million per annum for just over 2 000 patients.
Mkhatshwa, who was questioned on Monday about the escalating year-on-year tariff increases, told the inquest that the Consumer Price Index partly influenced them.
You will also take cognisant of the fact that there were certain years where we struggled to get any tariff increase. So, those would then be borne by company and had to be made up for in another year. So, all those factors would need to be done so that you get a full picture as (to) why the numbers increased the way you are mentioning there,” says Mkhatshwa.
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