13 November 2017

South African Human Rights Commission Hosts National Investigative Hearing On Status of Mental Health Care in South Africa, 14 Nov

press release

The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission or SAHRC) will host a National Investigative Hearing on the Status of Mental Health Care in South Africa, on Tuesday, 14 November 2017 until Wednesday, 15 November 2017 at the SAHRC Head Office in Johannesburg. In handing down his report into the Esidimeni debacle, the Health Ombud, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, recommended that the Commission be requested to undertake, nationally, a systematic and systemic review of human rights compliance and possible violations nationally related to mental health in South Africa. The National Investigative Hearing (the Hearing) is therefore a direct response to that recommendation and aims at looking at the national picture on mental health care.

It is important to clearly distinguish between this hearing, the National Hearing on the Status of Mental Health Care in South Africa convened by the SAHRC, on the one hand, and the ongoing Life Esidimeni Arbitration Dispute Resolution process presided over by Justice Dikgang Moseneke, the former Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa, on the other hand. The Life Esidimeni Arbitration Dispute Resolution process is designed to provide information, redress and closure to the affected mental health care users and their families. The SAHRC supports the Arbitration Hearing and respect for the integrity of that process. We have no doubt that the Arbitration Hearing has the capacity to deliver substantive restorative justice to the mental health care users and families affected by the Life Esidimeni Healthcare deinstitutionalisation.

Conversely, the National Hearing on the Status of Mental Health Care in South Africa, convened by the Commission, is not designed to address individual instances of inadequate mental health care. Its purpose is to collect information that allows the Commission to identify the underlying systemic and structural challenges that undermine access to and the quality of mental health care and develop recommendations designed to address those challenges.

The Hearing panel will be composed of the SAHRC's Chairperson, Advocate Bongani Majola; Commissioner Bokankatla Malatji; Commissioner Angie Makwetla and an external panellist; Professor Katherine Sorsdahl. The Commission has invited relevant government departments, regulatory bodies, civil society organisations, researchers, academics, and affected individuals to contribute towards identifying pertinent systemic and structural issues impacting on the provision and adequacy of mental health care in South Africa.

Issued by: South African Human Rights Commission

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