The mentally ill patients were crammed into a small house and …

Senior health officials did not take action when alerted to the inadequacy of a facility housing mental health patients in the state who had been displaced from Life Esidimeni.

It was the testimony of Gauteng deputy director of mental health Nonceba Sennelo, who testified Monday during the Life Esidimeni investigation into the condition the patients at Precious Angels Institution were found in.

“We visited Precious Angels in July and the placement took place in June, but at that time no deaths were reported… we found that the location was not correct and we immediately alerted our supervisor, [the then mental healthcare director] Dr. [Makgabo] Manamela, who sent someone else to check and we recommended that this place be closed immediately and that the patients be transferred, ”Sennelo told the inquest into the deaths of at least 144 patients with the disorders. mentally in 2016. They died after being transferred from Life Esidimeni. small, unfunded NGOs.

Describing Precious Angels, Sennelo said: “It was a small house, and the patients were 18 years old in this house, basically a four room house and the adult patients slept in cots… not really suited to be a place to sleep. the mentally ill and there were stairs and everything, it just really wasn’t safe for the patients and it wasn’t well maintained.

Lawyer Teneille Govender, legal adviser to Gauteng Qedani Mahlangu’s former health MEC, told the inquest that Mahlangu would testify that “she has never received any adverse reports.”

Referring to Sennelo’s testimony that Precious Angels was not suitable for patients, Govender said that “this was never found in a report filed with the MEC.”

In response, Sennelo said: “We had written reports to Dr Manamela, so we don’t know if these reports were sent to the MEC.”

Sennelo testified that when she followed up with Manamela on the issues they faced with the transfer of patients, Manamela responded that “the MEC doesn’t want problems, it wants solutions. ”

She said the staff at Life Esidimeni “complained about the lack of time and I also agreed”.

Sennelo said she found Manamela “dominant” and said that “she was teaching us and it was difficult for us to object to anything because we had to follow instructions all the time”.

Sennelo also testified about transporting patients from Life Esidimeni to various facilities.

Sennelo said she was present during the transfer of mental health care users and that there was a special room where patients were taken with their records, medications and IDs for the team to verify. of Life Esidimeni, including social workers, prior to their surrender. more for the transfer.

“Some NGOs brought their own means of transport, like Tshepong, who said he had received an army bus. If an NGO indicates that they have no means of transport, we will organize the transport with our EMS, ”explained Sennelo.

Speaking about the transfer of patients from Waverley, Sennelo said that to his knowledge it was not until the last day of the transfer that transport did not arrive for the patients.

“This is why some of the patients were not transferred and ended up going to the facilities of Life Esidimeni. As a result, they were transferred to Baneng and Randfontein. “

The investigation continues Tuesday. SM / MC

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