Life Esidimeni-tragedy inquest: Doctor – ‘Extreme medical neglect led to patients death’


Life Esidimeni-tragedy inquest: Doctor - 'Extreme medical neglect led to patients death'
Life Esidimeni-tragedy inquest: Doctor - 'Extreme medical neglect led to patients death'

Dr Deon Lombaard, a doctor with a private practice in Rayton, who treated Jaco Stols (one of the 144 victims in the infamous Life Esidimeni-tragedy) in 2016, today testified that Stols was in a horrific state due to malnutrition and dehydration when he examined him.

He also testified that Stols had bedsores and only weighed 39 kilograms. Dr Lombaard further testified that the only explanation for the state that Stols was in, was that the patient was subjected to extreme medical neglect and suffered from malnutrition, which led to diabetic symptoms, ulcers, a compromised immune system and eventually his death.

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit and Solidarity Helping Hand represent De Villiers in this inquest. Advocate Phyllis Vorster, Prosecutor at the Private Prosecution Unit, has been appointed as a watching brief to assist De Villiers and also handled the examination in chief of Dr Lombaard today. De Villiers took her brother to Dr Lombaard in September 2016 after observing that he was very ill.

Stols, an intellectually disabled man with the brain capacity of a nine year old child, was in Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre (CCRC) for 18 years before being transferred to the Siyabadinga centre on 9 May 2016 as part of the Life Esidimeni money saving scheme.

He was retransferred to CCRC in July 2016 after it became known that the Siyabadinga centre was operating without the necessary licences. According to Dr Lombaard’s testimony, it is at this centre where Stols was neglected to such an extent that he died.

Dr Lombaard who, for ten years, was the superintendent and later CEO of CCRC in the 1990’s, prescribed the necessary intravenous nutrition and medication to Stols and sent a letter to the centre regarding the appropriate treatment of Stols. He testified that, during his tenure, there was a medical ward at the centre and that patients could receive the necessary treatment there. However, according to Dr Lombaard’s testimony, it seems that this did not happen.

“The more evidence is led in this inquest, the clearer it becomes that someone must be held accountable for the death of the 144 patients. We are convinced that there are grounds for prosecution and hope that the National Prosecuting Authority will prosecute those who have been implicated in this inquest to ensure that justice is done for these vulnerable people who died so cruelly,” says Wico Swanepoel, attorney at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.

“Sandra de Villiers on 28 February 2022, testified that she only wants justice for her brother and that is all that Solidarity Helping Hand is striving for in this case. We want the people who are responsible to be held accountable so that we can look after the holistic wellbeing of vulnerable groups of people, in this case people with disabilities. It is important to look after those who cannot look after themselves and to be a voice for the voiceless,” says René Roux, Deputy CEO at Solidarity Helping Hand.

Read the original article in Afrikaans on AfriForum