Johannesburg – The Gauteng Department of Health has been accused of concealing statistics surrounding the causes of deaths in the province, after the numbers last year revealed severe disparities with the figures released by the SAPS.
Last year, an exposé in The Star revealed the number of bodies from violent deaths in Gauteng mortuaries was higher than the official police murder count. While the police denied any miscount or accusations that they were under-counting their murder statistics, an attempt to see whether the numbers for this year match up has been scuppered by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.
Earlier this year, DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom asked for the figures from the department at the legislature. Last year, he was given a comprehensive response when asking the same questions, but last week he was provided with a significantly less detailed reply.
The legislature’s reply only listed the top 10 causes of death in Gauteng, namely motor vehicle accidents, “gun shotting” (sic), stabbing, assault, hanging, burns, poisoning, anaesthetic, “overdoes” (sic) and “stillborn”. However, no statistics were provided as was the case last year.
The MEC also did not respond to queries asking for the number of bodies in each mortuary, or the number of deaths recorded this year. The response did say that the highest case load in Gauteng was in Germiston, and that motor vehicle accidents cause the most deaths.
The “vague” response has left Bloom asking why the department has tried to conceal its statistics. He has said he will now launch an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to force the department to release the statistics.
“This will be the fourth one I have done this year to the Gauteng Health Department because of their reluctance to disclose information that may cast a bad light on them,” he said.
Queries were sent to the Health Department ON Sunday, but had not been answered at the time of publication.
In The Star’s original exposé, it was revealed that while the SAPS counted 2 997 murders in Gauteng in 2012/13 and 3 333 murders the next year, the department’s forensic pathology service mortuaries counted 3 452 deaths in 2012/13 and 3 736 deaths the following year.