On Day Five of the arbitration hearings into the Esidimeni tragedy the acting head of Gauteng’s Health Department‚ Ernest Kenoshi‚ testified. These are six of the latest bombshells to emerge.
1. 141 patients have died. The number of people who died was 118 up until February‚ but this has risen to 141‚ including the 23 deaths from February to September.
But the number of deaths has shrunk below the monthly number of deaths at Life Esidimeni‚ said Kenoshi. Life Healthcare previously testified that‚ on average‚ seven patients died a month.
2. The Gauteng Health Department owes R 4-billion to suppliers. Kenoshi was asked if the department was in financial trouble and whether that was the reason patients were moved from Life Esidimeni into places run by nongovernmental organisations.
Kenoshi said he didn’t know the reason for them being moved was because he hadn’t been involved.
But he told hearing Judge Dikgang Moseneke that at the end of financial year there was a “R4-billion accrual in debt invoices for suppliers and contractors”.
3. Only 26 post-mortem examinations were done. Post-mortems have not been handed to lawyers in the arbitration because the health department has been unable to get them from the police. Twenty-one post-mortem reports are still with the pathologists.
Kenoshi said: “We have worked with specific families to obtain reports. We have failed in that process. We have told that‚ legally‚ the reports should be held by SAPS.”
State advocate Tebogo Hutamo said the police had explained that 21 post-mortems had not been completed.
These are from patients that mostly died before February.
4. Patients had not been bathed when they were “rescued from NGOs”. In February‚ when the health department was involved in removing people from the NGOs’ facilities‚ they had to take food from the state hospital with them.
Kenoshi said: “Some patients had not been bathed” and the health department had worked through the night to save lives.
5. There were no medical records or names of patients and their families. Kenoshi said: “When the department got involved‚ there were no accurate records of patients and families at all. Just compiling figures (of the dead) from nothing was not easy.”
6. The Precious Angels NGO owner pretended to be a family member. Kenoshi testified that the owner of Precious Angels pretended to be a family member and had signed for three bodies that to be give a paupers burial. She has no authority to do this.