“THE moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped,” said
Hubert Humphrey, a former deputy president of the US.
If that measure is taken into account then the Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has tragically failed the 36 patients of Life Esidimeni Psychiatric Hospital in Randfontein, their families and this nation.
The 36 died within three months of a provincial cost-cutting exercise that saw 1300 psychiatric patients relocated from proper psychiatric facilities to NGOs – against all recommendations from medical experts and despite appeals from their families.
The department has committed a terrible dereliction of duty in its core function. The MEC and her department chose money over human life – an unforgivable offence against the patients, their families and the nation.
The fact that the MEC was warned several times against the move clearly shows the level of arrogance that has overtaken government.
My heart goes out to the families of those who have died under these callous circumstances.
What Qedani Mahlangu has demonstrated once more is the attitude which has become entrenched in the current government. It is one without a jot of empathy, sympathy or respect for mankind. It is a callousness that borders on evil. It reflects an arrogance so deep that it will actively defy direct intervention from those who know better.
How else can you explain why the MEC went ahead with a programme which was so clearly ill-conceived, against protocol, without proper preparation and acted in defiance of the advice of experts and appeals from family members?
How does a “servant of the people”, which every MEC is supposed to be, ignore so many points of call and cross so many lines?
How is it also possible for the MEC to ignore the protests of NGOs who knew very well that they were ill- prepared and ill-equipped to take care of psychiatric patients?
“When we said we did not have a license to care for psychiatric patients, they told us this was not a problem and they would issue one after we began the work,” said Dianne Nodayile of Siyabadinga, a daycare NGO.
Which authority in its right mind goes ahead with such a venture?
This incident adds to the long list of gross negligence that is routinely committed by this government.
But the truth is, once a culture of impunity entrenches itself as has happened with this government, the stage is set for countless more unnecessary tragedies.
The impunity and incompetence demonstrated by the president of the country has seeped into every crevice of government. If the president can cut corners, break protocol, undermine his oath of office and still be protected by the ruling party and left in office to wreak even more havoc, who else under his leadership will not act this way?
The leaders in the tripartite alliance who protect the president by their actions or their silence, in spite of his glaring betrayals, will soon come to realise that the consequences of their choices are not limited to the president.
As with poison, if you do not acknowledge its presence and attempt to stop it, it will spread and by the time you are eventually forced to deal with it the damage may be too great and it is too late.
The degeneration which accompanies the presidency of Jacob Zuma and his brand of ANC, has become obvious. What further dereliction of duty awaits us? And what terrible consequences thereafter?
But between you and me, it is still probably not possible for those who have sold their souls for the sake of expediency, to make the connection. The denialism required of sycophants will not allow them to acknowledge that they have poisoned the land.
It is tragic that in our case, these individuals remain firmly in leadership!? Even more tragic is that this is a government that came into power to protect the weak and helpless – those like the Esidimeni patients – but it has now become cruel abuser of those for whom it should care the most.