Court must decide if someone is criminally liable for Life Esidimeni deaths: Evidence leader

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The High Court in Pretoria is obliged to make a finding on whether some of the deaths in the Life Esidimeni marathon transfer project of mental health patients should be included in the ongoing inquest. Some legal representatives argued that some of the deceased were not part of the transfer project.

The argument has caused a delay in the long-awaited testimony of Mavis Mokgosinyana, a former clinical manager at Mosego NGO that housed some of the patients.

144 mental health patients died due to starvation, dehydration and neglect.

This after the Life Esidimeni facilities were shut down due to budgetary constraints by the Gauteng Health Department in June 2016.

Evidence leader, Peter Luyt, says the court mustn’t leave any stone unturned.

“This court must decide whether somebody is criminally responsible for the deaths in this regard. Specifically, if in the end the person was assaulted and where someone was responsible, this court must make such a finding.”

Patients were malnourished

During proceedings in March, Physician Specialist Professor Gregory Tintinger said that psychiatric patients were malnourished and that their weight loss was abnormal.

Professor Gregory Tintinger shed light on the medical cause of deaths of mental health patients, based on post-mortems.

“When the person has lost 27% of their body weight in just three months that’s very abnormal. We will always try and establish the cause for such a degree of weight [loss].”

“It could include factors such as TB and others. But none of these were found in the autopsy which may lead to consider that there was another possibility such as starvation. There are two criteria that need to be met to consider the possibility of starvation,” explained Professor Tintinger.

Families unhappy with loved ones being moved

Meanwhile in September last year, the man tasked with leading the relocation of patients, Levy Mosenogi, told the inquest how families were unhappy about the move of their loved ones.

Mosenogi says engagements between former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and families of Life Esidimeni healthcare users were at times characterised by anger and dissolution.

SABC News reporter Chriselda Lewis provides more details in the report below: