Psychiatrist expected to testify at Life Esidimeni Inquest on Wednesday

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Another expert witness will testify at the Life Esidimeni Inquest in the Pretoria high court on Wednesday morning.

Dr Mvuyiso Talatala, a specialist psychiatrist, will shed some light about the unsuccessful attempts to caution different government stakeholders to prevent the Life Esidimeni tragedy in 2015.

Talatala was the President of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) at the time.

The 144 patients died of hunger, dehydration and neglect during and after they were moved from the Life Esidimeni facilities to ill-equipped and unregistered non-governmental organisation.

On Tuesday, mental health care expert Professor Abel Pienaar told the inquest crucial information in the patients’ transfer files was missing.

“What I see in the note is at what state the mental care user was transferred. It might need some help but it’s not a thorough assessment.

So in my case if you ask where this report surfaced, I would say no medical history and also a number of issues are not very clear. It says physical examination none. It just says the patient shall continuing nursing care but not saying what nursing care must be done,” says Pienaar.

The inquest is investigating the deaths of 144 psychiatric patients:

On Monday, Professor Abel Pienaar told the inquest that mentally ill patients were transferred to new Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) without proper records detailing their medical needs and condition.

Professor Pienaar said that the transfer of patients from the Life Esidemeni facilities constituted neglect and poor health care.

This is after the Gauteng Health Department closed down the Life Esidimeni facilities in June 2016, citing financial constraints. Professor Pienaar says the health of the patients was compromised.