In September 2016, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi asked me to investigate the deaths of, at that time, 36 mental health patients as part of the Life Esidimeni tragedy. The deaths came after the Gauteng health department removed about 1 700 long-term psychiatric patients from state-sponsored care at Life Esidimeni facilities in 2016 and placed them into the custody of mostly unlicensed nongovernmental organisations.
Since I released my 2017 report, the number of people who died as part of what became known as the Gauteng Mental Health Marathon Project has gone up four times and now stands at 144.
People have asked me what I learned from the Life Esidimeni saga. I learned many things but three, in particular, stand out for me. They tell us how our history informs our present and what we need to fix to change our future. ….more