South Africa’s Jesuit Institute said it is appalled at government actions that led to the deaths of 94 mentally ill patients in Gauteng province, and the bishops’ justice and peace commission called for compensation to affected families.
Deaths caused by dehydration, septic bed sores and uncontrolled seizures followed the transfer of more than 1,300 patients from a hospital to unlicensed nongovernmental organisations, said a report by South Africa’s health ombudsman, Malegapuru Makgoba.
The report’s findings show ‘a shocking failure to provide fundamental psychiatric health care’ as required by South African law, the Johannesburg-based Jesuit Institute said in a statement.
‘It is particularly disturbing to see how vulnerable people…have been subjected to what is, in effect, a cynical, and almost certainly profit-motivated, curtailment of basic care,’ it said.
The ombudsman found that the centres that housed patients failed to provide seriously ill people with enough food and water, leaving them severely malnourished and, in some cases, dying from dehydration.
Remedial action must include holding to account those responsible ‘for this gross violation of human rights’ and ‘suitable reparations according to the gravity of the damage,’ the Jesuits said.
The provincial government should ensure that families who lost loved ones are ‘expeditiously compensated,’ the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference justice and peace commission said in a statement.
Picture: People gather to hold a candle vigil in Johannesburg for the 94 mentally ill patients who died last year due to negligence. South Africa’s Jesuit Institute said it is appalled at government actions that led to the deaths of the patients in Gauteng province, and the bishops’ justice and peace commission called for compensation to affected families. (CNS photo/Kim Ludbrook, EPA).