The comments of the Eastern Cape MEC of Social Development, Nancy Sihlwayi about the intended closure of two Life Esidimeni Frail Care centres in Port Elizabeth are out of touch with the reality of what happened in Gauteng, where 94 mentally ill patients died at the hands of that provincial government.
In today’s front page article in The Herald (subs: Thursday, 2 Feb) MEC Sihlwayi comes across as uncaring towards the well-being of patients at Life Esidimeni Lorraine and the Algoa Frail Care, at a time when South Africans are rightfully angered at the deaths of 94 patients in Gauteng.
Her utterances are discriminatory and are that of an uncaring person who is out of touch with the plight of the 240 patients at the two centres. In a broader sense, she is not contributing to building a cohesive and caring society.
Furthermore, her comments are in conflict with those of Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who stated in the media today that the “de-institutionalisation” of psychiatric patients in the Eastern Cape would be paused. Click here. This statement was agreed to by the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini.
MEC Sihlwayi and the department’s Superintendent-General, Stanley Khanyile, must lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the plans to transfer frail care patients to various NGO’s all over the province. The secrecy leads one to question whether the MEC had established an interdepartmental task team to transfer patients to various NGO’s.
The DA warns the MEC that if she fails to heed the health ombudsman’s report into the death of 94 patients in Gauteng, she and the ANC will face a barrage of public condemnation, and could send innocent people to their deaths, as has happened in Gauteng. A Gauteng-type tragedy must be avoided, and MEC Sihlwayi should demonstrate that she cares enough to avoid any similar tragedy in this province too. — Kobus Botha MPL, Shadow MEC for Social Development