No moment of silence for Life Esidimeni 94
Parliament speaker Baleka Mbete has been strongly criticised for her refusal to allow for a moment of silence to be observed for the 94 Life Esidimeni psychiatric patients who died in the hands of the Gauteng health department.
The patients died shortly after being moved from Life Esidimeni Hospital in Randfontein and placed at 27 unlicensed NGOs across the province.
In the beginning of the state of the nation address last night- DA chief whip John Steenhuizen stood up on a point of order and requested that the house observed a moment of silence before the president starts delivering his speech.
However, speaker Mbete blocked and overruled the request, saying the Life Esidimeni matter will be attended to during the post-SONA debate next week.
Many on social media have accused Mbethe of being inhumane, insensitive and heartless.
People’s views on twitter:
They shot 34 miners and starved & froze 94 mental patients to death. Mbete was never going to allow a moment of silence. #SONA2017
— Tom Eaton (@TomEatonSA) February 9, 2017
— Boity Thulo (@Boity) February 9, 2017
A moment of silence won’t hurt, come on! this shows that our government doesn’t care about the Esidimeni victims! #SONA2017
— Karabo Mokgoko (@Karabo_Mokgoko) February 9, 2017
Mme Mbete should’ve just agreed to the moment of silence request, regardless that the DA forwarded the request. Lives were lost #SONA2017
— Mhana Xiluva (@NthabeeC) February 9, 2017
However, in his address, President Jacob Zuma called for the recommendations made by the Health Ombudsman into the deaths of the patients to be implemented speedily.
He said people suffering from mental health are the most vulnerable members of society and have to be protected.
President Jacob Zuma said Government will provide support to the families of the 94 mental health patients who died.
Gauteng government has already begun implementing the recommendations of the Health Ombudsperson – Professor Malegaburu Makgoba.
Premier David Makhura has established a task team to relocate the remaining patients from the NGOs.
The Premier further placed the Head of the Gauteng Health department on suspension.
President Zuma said the families of the deceased patients cannot face the burden alone.