4 more violent incidents by mental health patients at Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital

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Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital in Soweto has recorded four more violent incidents by mental health patients since the stabbing to death by a psychiatric patient on May 8.

MEC Bandile Masuku revealed in a written reply to questions posed by DA Gauteng shadow health MEC Jack Bloom in the Gauteng Legislation. In May, Edwin Zazayokwe, 86, died after he was attacked and stabbed multiple times in the chest with a sharp object, allegedly by a 17-year-old mentally ill patient at Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital.

The teen also allegedly attacked a 75-year-old patient with the object, injuring him. The attack happened just a day after the teenager had allegedly slapped the elderly men in the medical ward and nothing was done about it, a nurse at the hospital revealed.

According to Masuku, there had been 10 violent incidents at the hospital since January this year:

– 09/01/2020: Patient assaulted by a mental patient;

– 18/01/2020: Patient damaged property and assaulted an employee;

– 27/01/2020: Patient assaulted by a mental patient;

– 07/03/2020: Patient gained access through the fire hydrant to the ceiling to escape; – 28/04/2020: Burglar door was disconnected by the patient and used to escape;

– 08/05/2020: Patient allegedly stabbed another patient to death;

– 09/05/2020: Patient assaulted by a mental patient;

– 12/05/2020: Patient assaulted by a mental patient;

– 15/05/2020: Patient gained access through the shower room into the ceiling to escape; and – 19/05/2020: Patient vandalised the male medical ward (broke windows and damaged certain equipment in the ward).

In his reply, Masuku attributed these incidents to the medical conditions of the patients.

“These patients are also managed in a non-secluded environment as there are no dedicated mental health wards“. Masuku said preliminary investigations are under way in order to inform appropriate actions to be taken by the department.

“The chief executive officer is on precautionary transfer and mental health services are currently suspended to allow Infrastructural challenges to be dealt with by the department of infrastructural development (DID)”.

Bloom said he was highly disappointed that the hospital had not taken sufficient security steps to prevent violent incidents even after the murder of a patient. The key problem was that mental health patients were kept in an ordinary ward rather than a dedicated high-security ward which should have been built long ago.

“I welcome the precautionary suspension of CEO Ruth Mabyana, as she has failed dismally to manage the hospital for six years. She should be replaced with someone who can ensure that there is safety and quality care for all patients at this hospital,” Bloom said.


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