Esidimeni death toll rises

JOHANNESBURG – The Esidimeni tragedy that saw 118 mentally ill patients dead has risen to 141, the acting head of Gauteng Health Department Dr Ernest Kenoshi has confirmed.

Speaking during the arbitration hearings in Parktown on Friday, Dr Kenoshi said the Esidimeni incident was disastrous as many lives continue to be lost.

Kenoshi, who is the State’s fifth witness said “the death toll in the Esidimeni tragedy actually stands at 141 and not 118.”

Kenoshi says from the initial incident in Esidimeni, 23 former Life Esidimeni patients have died between then and the end of last month.

Kenoshi was appointed as the acting head of the department on February 8 following the release of the Esidimeni report by the Health Ombudsman.

According to Kenoshi, autopsy results are evident that Esidimeni patients died of natural causes as no foul play is detected.

On Thursday, Levy Mosenogi, who was in charge when patients were moved from Life Esidimeni facilities into illegal and ill-equipped non-governmental facilities, apologised for his actions.

In his testimony, Mosenogi blamed his then boss Qedani Mahlangu for lack of experience in the health sector.

He said it was necessary for authorities to appoint someone with experience and knowledge to avoid the same tragedy from happening again.

Arbitration hearings are set to continue on Friday afternoon.

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